The Metal Files

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Pentagram & Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 Concert Review, Austin, TX, March 19, 2016

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foto by Jerry Milton

Day 2 of my weekend with Pentagram took place at The Lost Well in East Austin.  This show was held during SxSW and was part of a separate 2-day affair called Heavy Metal Parking Lot.  This is the third installment put on by Johnny Galyon and American Icon Records.  The day’s featured artists were as follows:
PENTAGRAM 1130
Mondo Drag 1030
Venomous Maximus 930
Sweat Lodge 830
The Blood Royale 745
Tower 7
Sabbath Crow 615
Against the Grain 530
Destroyer of Light 445
Banquet 4
Wrong 315
Greenbeard 230

After driving back from Houston in the morning and sleeping half of the day, I got there a little after 5 missing my friends in Destroyer of Light but got to catch Against the Grain whom I missed the night before.  They were killer!  Bass player was a total monster.  It was a good set overall and I look forward to catching them again.  Good friends Sabbath Crow were up next and I caught part of their set before grabbing dinner with Greg from Pentagram and Jeff Lee, who is basically a Pentagram historian and lives in the area.  He’s been involved with the band since 1979 and it’s always great to hear his stories.  Tower from New York were up next and I enjoyed their set quite a bit.   The Blood Royale came next and it was their end of tour show and they blazed through it like madmen. Sweat Lodge was up next and they fall into that category of 70s retro that I just can’t get in to.  Their singer’s got a great voice but I just can’t latch on to them at all.  Good friends Venomous Maximus were up next and as always got a great response for a great set.  Love those dudes.  Mondo Drag’s set was comparable to the night before in Houston, which is to say they were great.  They got a really good response from the crowd, too.

Pentagram came on next to an over capacity crowd that was jam packed into The Lost Well like sardines in mustard sauce.  It was pretty intense.  I’ve never seen it so packed in there.  I stood in the very back of the venue and really could only see the tops of Victor’s and Greg’s heads.  They played the same setlist with the only difference being the encore was played after the last of the main list songs since the band couldn’t leave the stage at all to take a quick break.  So they plowed through the encore with the extended massive jam at the end of 20 Buck Spin.  It was crazy in there.  And it was great.  I’m glad everyone got in and that no one got hurt in that packed crowd.  Bobby’s voice started a little rough at the beginning of the set, but improved greatly by the time they played Forever My Queen.  Once they finished, they quickly exited the stage and went straight to the bus.  I got caught up in a few conversations and didn’t get to see them off as they had to get to DFW to catch some flights home.  They were backlined so didn’t have any real gear to break down and load up besides the merch.  Speaking of which, I didn’t get one of their shirts as they had run out of my size prior to the Houston show.  And again, pick up Curious Volume.  It’s a great album.

I couldn’t have asked for a much better weekend with a great bunch of guys in Pentagram and the folks at The Lost Well, including all of the friends and staff there.  It was a night for the record books for sure.

 

 

 

Pentagram Concert Review, Houston, TX, March 18, 2016

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I like traveling out of Austin for shows and seeing Pentagram in another city was surely going to be fun.  I first met them in 2010 on the street in Austin and became pals with them over the years since.

I got to Houston around 4PM and a little before the band arrived to load in and sound check.  I noticed a line of people at the venue that seemed pretty young, too young to be Pentagram fans in general.  There was a show in the main room at Warehouse Live from some mall metal/mall core/emo core band called blessthefall.

When Pentagram arrived, I helped them load in during a heavy rain storm.  That was fun(?).  Also loading in were Detroit’s Against the Grain and Oakland’s Mondo Drag.  Once everything got set up, the band ran through sound check with a couple of Pentagram songs and KISS’ Cold Gin, all with Victor on vocals.  After the check, I ran Greg and Victor to Guitar Center to get a fog machine.  Let me tell you, the customer service there was total shit.  The guy working there just seemed annoyed that we had questions and that he needed to get the ladder to get what the band needed from the top shelf. Sorry that you had to provide customer service in your customer service job, dude.  We grabbed a quick dinner across the street and then headed back in the venue.

When we got back, they set the machine up in the dressing room to test it out.  Bobby had come in from the bus and was on the couch next to the machine and they blasted him with it twice.  His reaction was pretty funny.  I guess you had to be there.  The band also decided to prank blessthefall as their dressing room was connected by a sealed doorway that had enough of a crack in it to shoot fog into their dressing room.  During blessthefall’s last song, they got their room filled with fog.  Oddly enough, they got pissed off about it as did the promoter and security guy.  What a bunch of pussies.

I missed Against the Grain’s set while  we were buying the fog machine.  However, I did catch most of Mondo Drag’s set and completely loved it.  If I had to classify it, it’s Uriah Heep meets some Yes meets early 70s jazz/fusion.  In general I detest the 70s psychedelic revival as most of the bands sound the same to me, offering nothing different than any others.  But these guys had a little something different.  Maybe just the Heep styled heavy keyboards and cool jazz riffs here and there, but it set them apart from just about all of the other bands I’ve seen that fall in the sub genre.  The crowd seemed into it as well.

Pentagram hit the stage with about 150ish in the crowd.  It seemed pretty lightly attended overall.  I’ve not attended many Houston shows so can’t really gauge what it should have been.  They opened up with Death Row and All Your Sins and much of the crowd was singing along.  Bobby’s voice sounded great, probably better than any other time I’ve heard them.  The band was energetic and extremely tight.  New drummer, Peter Campbell, has the perfect combination of keeping perfect time and having feel in his playing.  They mixed the setlist up with a lot of classics and 5 from the latest album, Curious Volume.  The album is awesome and I highly recommend it.  It’s easily in my top 5 Pentagram albums.  The crowd went crazy during Forever My Queen. For me Broken Vows and When the Screams Come are two of the major highlights and come from my favorite album of theirs, Day of Reckoning.  They played 7 total from Pentagram (aka Relentless).  The encore also had Be Forewarned, which was the favorite song by my old pal, Sergio.  RIP.  It was a great show overall and the Pentagram band and crew are really all great guys.  Thanks for the hospitality as always!

After the show, I went back to the dressing room and hung out for a bit.  Bobby was worn out and about to fall asleep.  He asked me what I thought of the show and I mentioned that I’ve seen 3 classic singers recently who all blew me away.  Those being Liebling, Mogg and Meniketti.  He perked up when heard Mogg mentioned.  Apparently UFO is his favorite band.  Based on the conversation we had, his knowledge of the band has few rivals.  And I’ll say this, for a guy who’s done the drugs and lived like Bobby has, I’m always impressed that he can get on stage and not miss a lyric ever that I’ve seen.  No teleprompter, just incredible memory.  It’s quite impressive.  Greg mentioned that at rehearsals they’ll start playing a random old Pentagram song and Bobby will come right in and sing it perfectly.

After some quick goodbyes, I headed to my hotel.  I was wiped out.

 

 

 

 

Pentagram Concert Review, Austin, TX July 4, 2014

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This past weekend American Icon Records (AIR) put on their inaugural 2 day music festival at The Mohawk in downtown Austin.  AIR is run by my pal, Johnny Gaylon, and by all looks, this was a successful thing for him.  My main reason for wanting to go, friendship aside, was to see my pals in Pentagram play again.  Victor Griffin has rejoined the band and it’s always a treat to see him play.  He’s a damn good player and has written some of my favorite metal riffs.

Pentagram was scheduled to play on July 4th and I planned my day around that.  I befriended the band in 2010 when I ran into them on the street before their show at Emo’s.  Added bonus for that day show was to finally see War Master live as well as seeing my friends in The Bulemics and Venomous Maximus.

I arrived at the venue around load in time and got to hang out with Bobby for quite a while in the green room.  It’s always an interesting conversation with him in 1000 different directions.  He reminds me of my brother (RIP) a bit.  I sit through sound check and they sounded great.  We head back up to the green room and they take off to go rest up before the show.

Brothers Collateral opened up the show and they sounded great.  Instrumental stonerish 4 piece band that had some really cool guitar harmony parts setting them a little differently than most of the stuff in the genre.  Venomous Maximus laid it down solidly as always.  I was really looking forward to seeing War Master, mainly because their bassist is a very good friend of mine.  I’ll be honest when I say I’m not the biggest fan of death and black metal.  I’m very limited to what I like in those genres.  But War Master was great.  If I can understand your singer, you’re halfway there with me and I could get most of what he was yelling at us.  The guitars were good and solid and thankfully JT plays solos.  I see some death and thrash and black metal bands with 2 guitarists but no one plays solos.  That’s not very metal!  Add in that TA on bass is always solid and fun to watch.  Then that drummer.  What a beast!  Seriously, this guys is awesome.  I really hope something good happens to this band.  They’re back on the road again for the next 2-3 weeks I believe.  Go see them.  I caught part of Ditch Witch and they were good.

Then Pentagram hits the stage.  It’s amazing to watch Bobby perform after all he’s done to himself.  His between song banter is basically indiscernible and was also a little hoarse, but while singing he was clear and powerful.  His stage moves are awesome.  I love that guy.  For most of their set I was up on the top deck with good friends.  It was a good night and Pentagram sounded great.  I was a little surprised that they only did one song from Last Rites, which I think is a fantastic record.  Most of the set was from Relentless and I was happy to get 3 songs from my favorite, Day of Reckoning (no Burning Saviour of course).  After the show, I hung with them for a little bit before heading home.  I was wiped out.  Great to see those guys.

I went back to Mohawk Saturday for day 2 of the fest.  I’m not a fan of anyone on the bill but was guestlisted so I went again as I had no other plans that night.  American Sharks were a pleasant suprise.  I’d like to catch them again sometime.  I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a fan of The Sword in the least but seeing them Saturday was enjoyable.  Not sure what was different this time, but whatever.  I missed everyone else on the bill.

Johnny is already working on the fest for next year.  Good job on this one!

 

 

Pentagram and Ancient VVisdom Concert Review, Austin, TX 8/2/2013

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Pentagram came to town yesterday to play Emo’s East.  No need to rehash my love for them, it’s all written here somewhere.

I’ll just say that the band was solid and Bobby sounded great.  New guitarist, Matt, did a great job.  No, he’s not Victor Griffin, but no one is.  This kid did a fine job.  New drummer, Sean, was rock solid as well.  And of course Greg Turley killed it on bass.  I got to spend some time with Greg for a few hours before show along with Jeff, the band’s biographer.  Jeff and Greg know more about Pentagram than Bobby.  Their history with the band is quite interesting.  It was a great time talking with them again.

The Saint James Society opened the show and quite frankly I couldn’t have been more bored.

My friends Ancient VVisdom were on next and played a fine set.  Their singer now plays acoustic guitar and it changes the vibe quite a bit.

Overall it was a great night.

Written by The Metal Files

August 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

Meeting UDO/Raven – June 17, 2000

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My good friend Nyk invited me to stay the weekend with him in Northern Virginia the same weekend that UDO and Raven were playing Jaxx Nightclub in Springfield.  While I’m not the biggest Accept or Raven fan, I knew that we would be on the guestlist because at the time, Nyk was friends with John Gallagher of Raven.  It would also be a good opportunity to get some more sigs in The Book.  Raven’s drummer at the time was Hasselvander from Pentagram, a band that I am a HUGE fan of, so the chance to meet him is worth the trip in itself.  And to be clear, I love Restless and Wild and Balls to the Wall but I’m not as familiar with their other albums.  I owned Metal Heart and Russian Roulette at some point but I really don’t remember either one of them.  And Raven?  I’m not a fan…at all.  There, I said it.  Talented dudes, but not my thing.

The day of the show we have dinner with the Gallagher brothers and they were super nice guys. If memory serves me well, dinner was at an Asian place.  A few Raven fans spotted them and came over to say hello.  Honestly, prior to that day I wouldn’t know those dudes if they were standing next to me.

They take off for the show and we bum around for a bit then head there ourselves.  We’re on the list and get to go in the “upper room” above the bar while one of the opening bands was on.  Hasselvander was up there and let me tell you, he is one of the coolest dudes around.  We talked about Pentagram quite a bit as he was still involved at the time and his connection with Blue Cheer and his new band, Hounds of Hasselvander.  He was putting on some eyeliner and with it he can really pass for Ozzy.  Fun dude.  He signed the book as well the Gallagher brothers and I went back to put it in the car.  It’s a bit of a pain to lug around all night.

Right as Raven was going on, we were just standing a ways back from the front and I turn to go get a drink or something and bump into this little stocky dude.  I said, “Oh, sorry man. ” and he replied with “No problem.”  And instantly it hit me.  It was Udo!  He must be about 5’1″ or so.   I shook his hand and asked him to sign my ticket (see below).

Both bands put on great shows, no matter if I liked the music or not.  The musicianship was top notch for sure.

Ticket signed by Udo...flip it over and you can almost make out his name.

Raven sigs in The Book on their page. (click to enlarge)

Written by The Metal Files

June 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Pentagram – Last Rites

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The new Pentagram came out today!  I had pre-ordered it a few days ago and right when I got up this morning, I fired up my PC and let the download start.  All total today I’ve got 4 listens into it including letting it play while I am writing this and feel that it’s enough to give it a proper review.

I’ve got to say that I didn’t really care for any of the Pentagram stuff after Victor Griffin’s departure from the band in 1994 (no offense to Joe Hasselvander), it just was missing something special…and obviously it was VG’s guitar playing.  He’s got a great style that is just right for Bobby’s vocal stylings.

I had heard 2 songs from the album already and had already acquainted myself with them pretty well in the last week or 2; those songs being Call The Man and 8.  Both tracks have a great feel to them and sort of show a “mature” sound to the band.  This album seems to be a little more melodic than albums past.  Bobby’s voice sounds great…nice and strong.  Clean living has certainly given his voice some power again.  The song Into The Ground has some good vocal harmonies that I assume are Bobby’s.  Having downloaded the album, I have no liner notes to check.  That’s one drawback of going all digital these days.  Victor’s signature sound is all over this album.  His solos are great as expected.

The songs 8 and Windmills and Chimes really show a new side to their music that I hadn’t heard before.  They are a little more progressive and not so typical stoner/doom like they get classified as.  Windmills and Chimes (remake) is really quite a beautiful song and one of my favorites on the album for sure.  The song American Dream sounds similar to 8 when it starts but quickly goes in a different direction.  Walk In Blue Light (remake from First Daze Here) and Nothing Left really sound like they could have been used on Relentless or Day of Reckoning.  Great classic sounding Pentagram!  I have to admit that the only song that hasn’t grabbed me yet is Death In 1st Person.  It’s not a bad song at all, but just doesn’t hook me in like the rest of the album.

The only negative thing I can say about the album is in the production.  It’s a wee tad muddy and Bobby seems a little too low in the mix…but that’s just my opinion.  Otherwise I think it’s an awesome return to form by the band.

In general, it sounds like Bobby and Victor had fun making this record.  It’s got really good energy and positive vibes to it and I can undoubtedly say that if you have ever even remotely liked this band, you’ll like this album.

8.5/10 if I was forced to put a number on it.

*UPDATE* – I didn’t realize until yesterday (4/13/11) that most of the tracks on here are remakes.  While I am a little disappointed, the album still deserves the rating I gave it.  BUY IT!  Don’t download illegally.

Track Listing:

1. Treat Me Right
2. Call The Man
3. Into The Ground
4. 8
5. Everything’s Turning To Night
6. Windmills And Chimes
7. American Dream
8. Walk In Blue Light
9. Horseman
10. Death In 1st Person
11. Nothing Left
12. All Your Sins – Reprise

 

Yours truly and Bobby before their first of 2 shows at SxSW 2011.

SxSW 2011 Quick Hits & Misses

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I’ll post reviews of some of my favorite happenings later, but here are some quick posts about some of this year’s SxSW happenings that I found.

  • Flatstock 29 – Flatstock is a poster art show where artists from all around showcase their wares andoffer them to the public for sale.  Since my first year of attending SxSW (2007), there has been a guy there named Brian Mercer who I think is an incredible artist and a helluva a nice dude.  I think I have bought a poster from him every year and got to see him away from the art show in a few clubs during the week.  I highly recommend his work, no matter if you’re a collector or you need some work done.  Check out his site:  Mercer Rock.  There were a lot of other good artists there but most made posters for bands I had no interest in.  Local artist Billy Perkins who sings for Butcherwhite was showing as well.  He has a current collection of works in process called “77”.  I picked up his Ace Frehely poster at FunFunFunFest a few months ago and this week picked up his Alice Cooper poster.  I love his style.  He also does band posters as needed.
  • Wednesday night I wanted to get into the Warbeast/Arson Anthem show at Emo’s.  The line was insanely long and none of the bands on the whole bill were really worth waiting that long for.  I can catch Warbeast again as they play Austin pretty regularly.
  • That same Wednesday I did get to catch Chicago’s Easy Action at the Ale House.  I had seen them a year or 2 prior and enjoy their brand of garage punk rock.  I met up with my friend Diane Kamikaze from WFMU.  We met last year at VoiVod and became fast friends.  She’s awesome and I’m glad I got to see her and her friend every day during the festival.
  • I did get to see quite a few bands throughout the week that just didn’t do a thing for me.  I won’t mention any by name but here’s a photo of one band from France that was pretty terrible except for their drummer.  The caption should read, “My shorts are more FuBu than yours!”  They were a ‘metal’ band, by the way.  Luckily most of the other bands on the bill saved the night.
  • People watching during SxSW is pretty interesting.  The influx of hipsters and gutter punks is crazy.  The hipsters seem to enjoy wearing vintage 80s “fashions” that really don’t fit.  I don’t know…most of what I see on them looked bad back in the 80s and still looks bad now.  I guess everyone’s got their thing, that just isn’t mine.  I’ll stick to my 80s looks of black t-shirt, blue jeans and black boots.   I at least wash my hair and bathe regularly.  It’s also cool meeting some of the foreigners who attend the festival.  After seeing the Bobby Liebling movie “Last Days Here“, I ran into some guys from Japan who were commenting on the patches on my jacket.  I told them I was seeing Loudness pretty soon and one of the guys pulls out his travel case with a 25th anniversary Loudness sticker on it.  He mentioned that their new drummer is a friend of his.  We had a quick discussion about Japanese metal and then parted ways.  The saw me again on the street the following night and handed me a CD of some J-Pop stuff.  Nice guys.
  • Street food/food trailers are a big thing in this town nowadays and even more so during the festivals.  Simms’ BBQ trailer at the corner of 7th and Red River is top notch in my book.  Their pulled-pork sandwich with pickles and onions really tastes like a McRib.  At least this is real pork.  Everything from this place is good.  The other usual suspects did me right as well like The Hot Dog King, Kebabalicious and Jackalope.  I did hit a veggie burger place yesterday that was pretty awful.  I hadn’t eaten since the previous day and there was no line there…I now know why!  I could not add enough pickles, spicy mustard and bbq sauce to drown out the nasty drabness of that burger.  Lesson learned.  Besides eating the street food, I am pretty sure I managed to lose some weight over the last few days.  I did tons of walking and my feet and knees are aching, but it’s a good thing.
  • Saturday morning I was able to catch The Rods at Cheapo Records at 11AM.  While I’ve never been a fan of them, I wanted to go see them for posterity’s sake and to get the book signed.  Mission accomplished.  Their set was lively and some of their true fans were there and that was great to see.  They were solid, I’m just not a big fan of their style of hard rock.  Their bassist, Gary Bordonaro was really good though.  I ended up seeing Gary and Carl Canedy on the street later that night as they were loading in for another gig downtown.  Apparently Wendy Dio was in attendance for that one!  Pretty cool.
  • I got to run into a few folks that I’ve wanted to meet for a while.  On Friday I ran into Wino from St Vitus at Scoot Inn and snapped a quick photo with him.  Dude’s a legend.  I didn’t make the Vitus show that night but heard it was good.  earlier that day I went to the D’Addario showcase and to see The Alex Skolnick Trio.  It was a fun show and Alex is a damned good player.  He was giving out free copies of his latest CD.  Repping for D’Addario was Frank Aresti from Fates Warning.  Oh man.  I’m a freak for early Fates Warning and especially the John Arch era.  A friend of Frank’s told me he was going to be there so when given an oppurtunity I chatted with him a bit, snapped a photo or 2 and got him to sign the book as well.  He told me a little about the upcoming album with John Arch and how John’s vocals still sound the same after 25 years.  I can’t wait for it to come out.  Before leaving I got to snap a show with both Alex and Frank.  That will be a moment cherished forever.
  • The Texas Guitar Show was pretty weak.  Much smaller than last year and I’m sure the economy has a lot to do with that.  Nobody was making deals either.  I did find one 80s Fender Jazz bass that I was interested in and he had it listed at or slightly above book value.  I offered a few hundred less and he said “all prices are what they are.”  Fine, I put my credit card back in my wallet and moved on.

All in all this has been a fun week.  I’m super tired, my feet and knees are killing me, I think my liver stopped working and I think I could go without seeing another band for a good week or 2…but I will make one more trip out this evening when Danava plays again.  They were my highlight of the festival along with spending time with Pentagram, both of which I will post about later.

Written by The Metal Files

March 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm