The Metal Files

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Riot V Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, October 1, 2016

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Riot V (Riot) is doing a short string of Texas dates in warmup to their Japan show with Rick Ventura performing all of Fire Down Under.  Last night was San Antonio’s turn and what a great show it was…as always.  There was yet another slight band member change for these shows.  Nick Lee and Lance Barnewold (Nick’s usual replacement) both had prior commitments and couldn’t do this show.  Riot tapped SA local Joey Villalobos to back up Mike Flyntz and he did a fine job.

Riot opened with a taped segment of Flashbacks from FDU then went into Narita as they always do.  They played 5 more songs that have been a part of their set in the last couple of years then brought out guitarist Rick Ventura to play FDU with Flyntz and the band.  It was quite a treat to see him again and to hear that whole album live.  Such an influential album and Mark Reale influenced a lot of guitarists.  After FDU, they kept Rick on stage for Tokyo Rose, Rock City and Road Racin’ and for a cover of Saxon’s Denim and Leather which featured Saxon’s Nigel Glockler on drums.  Pretty cool.  Last night proved once again that Todd Michael Hall is one of the best singers in metal.

Rick left the stage and Joey came back on for 5 more songs and that was it.  It was a great 2 hour set as always and was good to be there with good friends.

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Written by The Metal Files

October 2, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Riot V Concert Review, Detroit, MI, July 9, 2016

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And away I go to Detroit.  That was a long drive on minimal sleep.  I booked a hotel while I had stopped for breakfast at a truck stop.  As soon as I arrived to my hotel in Romulus, MI right by the airport, I took a shower and a quick nap.  I had a bunch of things I wanted to do and see that day but was just too wiped out to do them all.  The only thing I did do was to see my old friend Nikki.  We met in 1999 or 2000, went on a couple of dates and just ended up quickly becoming close friends.  We recorded an album together in 2002(?) and had seen each other since about 2004.  It was great to see her and her fiancee, laugh about old times and just be around her.  She’s always been one of the most positive people I’ve ever known.

From there I went back to the hotel to catch a Lyft ride up to the Token Lounge in Westland, MI.  I arrived right when the opener was starting.  I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and was getting hungry.  I noticed a pizza place on the end of the building and as I was leaving to go grab a slice or two, the door guy said, “No re-entry.”  I didn’t notice the sign when I had walked in.  He said to just phone in the order and they’ll walk it down.  I was about to do just that then he said, “Fuck it, there’s no one here yet, just go.”  Sweet.  The pizza place was called “Krustyzz.”  I ordered it to go and took it back to the bar.  They had some hightop tables behind the soundboard in an area that was separated by glass.  It was nice to sit and eat and not be blasted out.  The pizza was greasy but delicious.

The opener was called SixE SixE (Sixe Sixe?).  I don’t know.  They were pretty awful.  Not sure if they were a brand new band or what, but it wasn’t solid at all and the 2 songs I heard sounded like 90s style hard rock.  Glad I missed most of their set.  Terminus was up next.  Unfortunately it wasn’t the Irish band of the same name.  These guys were pure new metal and even covered Lamb of God.  I almost threw up my pizza.  Guitar players were good, though.  Heard a few solos that were impressive.  There came Acoustic Hell.  It was everything you’d think it was with that name.  Three acoustic guitars, a guy 50ish yrs old in flip flops and his hat on backwards and a female backup singer.  They played stuff like Crazy Train, Screaming in the Night and some other stuff that I couldn’t care about.  Luckily my pal Ryan showed up and I hung out with him and his friends on the back patio for the rest of their set.  Wulfhook was up next.  I neither loved nor hated them at Ragnarokkr and my reaction was the same at this show.  I’m not sure what it is that doesn’t quite catch my ear.  Singer has a powerful range, the rest of the band is solid and competent, but I’m just not into them.  Then…THEN, they did an encore version of Powerslave.  Maiden is my favorite band ever and I am picky about hearing cover versions of their music.  They played it pretty well then I heard, “When the life givers die.”  Not just once, but every time that section was played.  WTF.  No.

Riot time.  Thankfully.  They played the same set as the night before, flawlessly.  Such a powerful band to watch.  The crowd was considerably smaller, though.  Maybe a 100 people or so when they took the stage and it cleared out little by little throughout their set.  But I enjoyed it just as much.

After the show, the bar didn’t kick anyone out and we got to hang out.  It was drummer, Frank Gilchrist’s birthday, so we did a shot of whisky together.  I didn’t get to talk to him much at the Chicago show, but we caught up for quite a bit on Saturday.  He’s a good dude for sure.  I also got some one on one time with Mike Flyntz.  I requested Maryanne to get added to the set and he said that it’s the most requested song that they get.  I’d also like to hear more from the Mike Demeo era.  He was super cool as always and thanked me for making the trip.  As I was going over to talk with Donnie, he introduced me to his merch guy.  I saw him in Chicago and thought he looked familiar but couldn’t place it.  It was Giles Lavery who sang for Warlord for a little while.  I was shocked to see him and it was great to finally meet him in person.  What a great guy.  We talked for a while and had a beer.  He mentioned that his main band, Dragonsclaw, had a new album coming out.  It was quite a great night.  That venue is really cool, too.  Medium sized, great staff, great sound.  I’d like to visit the area again and hopefully that trip can coincide with a show here.

Sunday morning I just popped into a record store before heading to an airport.  I got a Paul Stanley shirt which just has the ’77 solo album cover on it with no lettering.  The store was certainly into ICP as their merch was everywhere and even a sign out front stating that they had tickets to the juggalo gathering.  Ha.

Twas a great weekend overall getting to see a band that I love in 2 other cities.

 

Written by The Metal Files

July 11, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Riot V Concert Review, Chicago, IL, July 8, 2016

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I like Riot/Riot V.  All incarnations.  Period.  They’ve never released a bad album.  Some better than others, but never a bad one.

I ran into their bassist, Donnie Van Stavern, at a RUSH tribute show in San Antonio a few weeks ago and asked him about upcoming shows.  He mentioned the Chicago and Detroit shows and I checked my concert calendar and my Southwest account and took the decision to just go.  He said he’d hook me up with guestlist for both shows, so that was an added bonus.

I left for Chicago Friday morning on a direct flight, got there, grabbed my rental car and headed straight to the north side of town to pick up Bob, one of the organizers of the Ragnarokkr festival.  He graciously offered up his place for the night.  We headed first to Metal Haven Grill and I pigged out on their tasty Italian beef and a char polish sausage.  It was entirely too much food but it was delicious.  You gotta go if you’re ever in Chicago.  Their record and CD selection is ever expanding and there is a ton of great original heavy metal artwork on display, mind-numbingly so.  From there we went to one of the locations of Reckless Records.  I didn’t find anything but it was a cool place.  Afterwards we headed back to Bob’s.  I changed clothes and off we went to the red line EL train to Reggie’s.

We got in and I saw a couple of folks I knew from the area that I had met at previous Ragnarokkr shows.  Crusader was the opening act and they played the whole time I was upstairs at Record Breakers store where I bought a bunch of albums to have shipped back to Texas.  Didn’t hear a note of them so I can’t comment.  Scars of Armageddon were on next and they were a proggy/power metal/slight hint of nu-metal band with excellent guitar work and a good singer.  I’d never buy an album by them but wouldn’t be upset to see them again.  Direct support for Riot was a local Judas Priest tribute band called Judas Rising.  Pass.  I mean, sure, they sounded alright although their singer I think would sound better doing a Di’Anno era Maiden tribute.  I don’t know, I just wasn’t feeling it at all.

After a quick set change, the lights go down and you hear the taped live version of Narita and then Frank leads in with the drum into to Flight of the Warrior.  The crowd of 200+ was into it, singing every word.  They then went into Ride Hard, Live Free from the latest album and then Fight or Fall.  I was on the stage left side where Van Stavern and Lance Barnewold (filling in for Nick Lee for this mini tour) we located.  Lance is Nick’s perfect replacement.  Both guys have flawless execution of riffs and solos.  They mix the set up with old and new songs.  The whole band was great.  I also appreciated getting handed the bottle of tequila from Donnie a couple of times.  And just let me say this, Todd Michael Hall is one of the best singers in metal out there right now.  That guy’s range is phenomenal.  He’s really just a freak of nature vocally like Harry Conklin and Mike Soliz.  It was great to hear Black Leather and Glittering Steel in the set as well.  They did 6 from Thundersteel including my fave, Johnny’s Back.

At the end of their set, Todd announced that they’d com out to the merch booth right after a quick break.  Two minutes after that, Reggie’s staff was kicking everyone out.  It wasn’t even 1:30 AM yet.  So we just hung out on the street with the locals friends and then went around to their back door to shoot the breeze with Donnie, Mike and Lance.  During their set, I took a pick of Lance and posted it on NIck’s Facebook page with the words, “Fake Nick is getting it done.”  haha.

It was a great show but I was beat so we hopped on the train back to Bob’s.  We got delayed at one stop because of some dude raising hell at the stand and not letting the doors close.  The guy sitting across from me woke up and said, “Fucking crackies!”  A few moments we were on our way.

I got to sleep around 4AM but I didn’t sleep well at all.  I was up and ready to go by 745AM, said adios to Bob and was on my almost 5hr drive to Detroit.

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Written by The Metal Files

July 11, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Riot V & Helstar Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, September 26, 2015

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I will start out by saying that Riot V is pretty much one of the best live bands out there right now along with Satan.  Last time I saw them was last year in Chicago at the Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse and was completely blown away.  Prior to that I had only seen them one other time at Scout Bar in San Antonio which was Mark Reale’s last USA show before his death.

A couple of friends and I headed down to 210 Kapone’s last in the afternoon, get parked and head in.  As always at a show like this one, we ran into a lot of friends from both San Antone and Austin and elsewhere.

There were 5 local openers for this show.  FIVE.  As seems to be pretty typical in San Antone and I imagine some or all of them paid to play.  Helstar was also a later addition to the show.  That’s 6 bands before Riot if you’re keeping track here.  The schedule was set as follows and was a recipe for disaster:

DOORS 6PM
METALRISER 6:50 – 7:15
SA TERRITORIES 730 – 7:55
JESSIKILL. 8:10 – 8:40
SEANCE. 8:55- 9:25
LOS WICKED WAYS. 9:40 – 10:10
HELSTAR. 10:25 – 11:10
RIOT. 11:30 – END

The show ran late I’m told because Riot’s soundcheck started late.  We didn’t get there until right before Jessikill was going on.

Helstar came on about 30 minutes later than their scheduled time and delivered a solid set as usual that I think was cut short, or at least during Run With the Pack their sound got cut and they finished it with just their stage sound.  Rivera was spot on with his vocals and I always enjoy watching Larry play guitar.  I’m not sure who the bassist is, but he’s good.  Unfortunately, they seemed to be getting hit with poor sound as I couldn’t hear the drums that well at all through the PA.

Riot finally hits the stage a few minutes after midnight opening with the instrumental Narita and then Ride Hard Live Free from their latest album.  Up next were two songs from Thundersteel and the crowd roared for Fight or Fall and Johnny’s Back, a personal favorite.  The rest of the set was mixed up with songs from all eras of of the band but didn’t touch the last Tony Moore album which was really good.  I guess they can’t play everything.

Former guitarist, Rick Ventura, who played in the band from 1979 to 1982 sat in for a handful of songs and it was really cool to see one of the almost originals on the stage.  He rocked it alongside Mike Flyntz and Nick Lee and looked like he was having a good time.  Don Van Stavern is from SA so he’s got an automatic contingent in the house when he plays shows.  Frank Gilchriest laid down a powerhouse set of drum work as he always does.  And finally, vocalist Todd Michael Hall.  Dude looks 25, turned 46 last night and sings like a lark.  Pretty much the best singer out there right now in my opinion.  The only thing missing last night was Tammy’s backing vocals.  She’s in another band with Flyntz and sometimes provides live backing vocals.  Look up the Bloodstreets video from this year’s Keep It True festival.  They’re perfect.

All in all it was a great show and I can’t wait to see them again…again.  RIP Mark Reale.  Riot V is keeping your spirit alive.

Because of shitty lighting, I couldn’t get a decent picture of Helstar.

Written by The Metal Files

September 27, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2014 in Review

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Holy crap!  What an incredible weekend I just had in Chicago April 3-6 at the Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2014 fest.  I was planning to attend the show this year but then my band, Eternal Champion, got added to the bill, so that made it a double bonus.  Having Riot V, Grim Reaper and Picture on the bill was enough to get me out of town.  My best friend of 30+ years, Kelz, got the OK from his wife and we started making plans to meet up there.

I got there Thursday afternoon and was greeted at the hotel by Bob B, one of the festival organizers, and David B who had just traveled from Australia for the fest.  They were waiting on some other folks who were on their way in before we headed off to go get some food.  I checked in, freshened up a little, met the rest of the group and off we went in a few different vehicles to grub.  I took Jeremy and Jamie from Heaven and Hell Records with me and also my buddy Dustin who’s drumming for Night Demon now.  I’ve known him for about 3 or 4 years from when his former band, New Liberty, would come through Austin.  I was pretty excited to see him and to share the bill with his band.  Good kid, good drummer.

We went to a place called Marcello’s Father and Son Pizza.  I ordered calamari and a small pizza with Italian beef and green peppers on it…and no, not Chicago style.  I’m a thin crust guy.  I did try a piece of Dustin’s Chicago style and it was good, just not my thing.  Mine was great as was the squid.  Plus they had Peroni on tap.  mmmmmmmmm…Peroni.  We left dinner and went to a cool little bar called The Mutiny.  There were a few venders set up there selling shirts, patches, records, books and CDs.  I kind of went overboard on patches.  I need a new vest to put them on.  My night there was great.  I got introduced to one of Bob’s friends, Mike and his girl Dahlia.  Such awesome folks.  Mike’s got ties to the San Antonio area and it was great getting to know the two of them a bit.  Classic metal was being played the whole night and it was quite incredible having 30+ people singing Running Wild and Warlock songs in unison.  The bar itself was great.  Just an old dive bar that loves metal and punk.  The guys from Riot V showed up later and we all partied down.  Don Van Stavern and I talked for quite a while as we have a lot of Texans in common.  Mike Flynt was hanging with us for a bit, such a super nice guy.  It was getting late and the long day was wearing on me, so I gathered my group and we headed back to the hotel.  Everyone was a bit wiped out plus we needed our strength for the opening of the fest.

One of my favorite things about The Mutiny was meeting the group of guys from Mexico.  Many of them didn’t speak English and it felt good to be able to speak Spanish with those guys.  I think they appreciated as well.

Friday morning came too early and I needed to pick up Kelz at the airport.  Mitchfest!  We went to the hotel, got him situated then went into downtown to get some food.  We ended up at Portillo’s and got the Italian beef sandwich.  I’m pretty sure they put crack in that thing.  It was tasty.  We went back to the hotel after that and chilled out for a little bit.  Now remember, we’ve known each other for over 30 years, so there’s always a ton of smack talk between us.  Tons of abuse.  Mama jokes galore.  At the hotel, we got our gear together for the night.  Him with CD covers galore and me with The Book.  I had purchased a canvas shoulder bag to carry that in and to house whatever swag I bought.

This fest has 2 stages and I’ll run through the main stage bands first.

MetalUSAfer was the “secret opener” at on the main stage at 5:30.  They weren’t my thing.  I think one or some of the guys from this band are in High Spirits who I haven’t checked out yet.

Chicago’s legendary Amulance came on next and just rocked the place.  While I felt that they should have been on later, the fest apparently has a “policy” of putting locals on early, no matter how big they were.  They were awesome and just super nice guys.  Singer Rick Baez made it a point to sign stuff for everyone after the show and wanted pics with the fans for himself.  Super cool.  Guitarist Bob and bassist Chuck were all super cool.

Night Demon is a SoCal 3 piece that now features my buddy Dustin on drums.  Awesome guys and they played a great set.  I recommend them!

Diamond Rexx was up next and I’ve always loved their album Land of the Damned, even if it was a bit cheesy.  They came on with their original lineup and played a mix of old and newer stuff.  They did alright.  I got to meet the guitarist and bassist who both signed The Book.  The singer didn’t stick around after their set unfortunately.  Oh well.

Canada’s Axxion came on next and their mulleted singer delivered soaring vocals over top of great riffs and drumming.  While they were trying a little too hard to be an 80s retro metal band, they did a good job at it and I’d like to see them again.

The Skull features original Trouble members Eric Wagner, Ron Holzner, Jeff Olson along with Lothar Kellar and Matt Goldsborough who was recently in Pentagram.  They were there to play their new new demos which sounded fine.  I had walked out for a minute to get some air when all of a Sudden I hear Trouble’s The Tempter being played live.  I think I may have knocked over a few people trying to get back in there.  The also played Assassin and End of my Daze.  They sounded great and seeing Matt on guitar was a nice bonus.  I had met him when Pentagram last came to town and he’s a cool guy.  Catching up after their set was great.

Picture came up next and played a damn solid set.  I’m not a huge fan but it was great to see some Euro legends on the stage and for their 2 original members to sign The Book.

Finally came Riot V, the version of the band touring after Mark Reale’s death (RIP).  I’ll just say this.  They ruled.  While having Bobby Jarzombek on drums would have been cooler, the touring drummer did a fine job and Mike Flynt did a wonderful job on guitar.  The new singer is no slouch either.  They were the perfect ending to an awesome night on the main stage.

As far as the second stage bands on the first night, none of them really stood out but I did stop in briefly to see NC’s Dogbane and Dark Design.  I can’t say I’m much of a fan but they were both solid.  To be honest I didn’t see any of the other bands on the second stage as the main stage that night was so ass kickingly good.

After Riot V, we went back to the hotel to pass out and to get some energy stored up for the next days sightseeing and festivities.  We bounced around Chicago a little bit but I didn’t want to get too crazy that day as my band, Eternal Champion, was slated to play at 8PM on the second stage.

I started on the main stage again with Salt Lake City’s Visigoth who just got up there and slayed the crowd.  The singer had trouble talking but was able to power through vocally.  The whole band was killer.  Can’t wait to see them again.

Austin-based Witches Mark came on next and played a solid set.  They’re goods pals of my band and it was cool to have another Texas band representing at the festival.

Because we had to play, I didn’t see Axemaster or Crowhaven but did pop in to see Black Death Resurrected, which was just OK.  I was never a fan.  I did meet Sickie Spacek after the show but didn’t have the book with me that night.

I also missed Argus as I was getting my gear situated after we played.  However, I did catch Mexico’s Voltax and those kids are kick ass!  High energy power metal and a singer with pipes of gold.  Amazing seeing him hit those insane high notes.

Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper closed out the night on the main stage and feature Nick Bowcott on guitar for the first time in about 25 years.  They played an incredible set and I’m so glad that I got to see them live finally and to meet Steve and Nick.  Steve’s voice sound great.

Now on to the second stage.  To be honest, I didn’t much pay attention to anything going on as I was getting mentally and physically psyched up for our slot.  One of the show promoters kept telling me about the hype surrounding us and that a lot of folks were excited to see us.  That being said, Midnight Hellion came on right before us and played an enjoyable set.

Next up was Eternal Champion.  Us.  This was only our third show since our inception in December 2012.  My local pal loaned us a sword.  During Midnight Hellion’s set, I could see a lot of people filing in presumably to get a spot in there to see us.  We get on stage, set up, tune up, get introduced and blasted through our 30 minute set like a hot knife through butter.  I think because of the adrenaline rush and the reactions from the crowd, I don’t really remember much about the set we played other than it was too fast.  Not surprising really, as we don’t rehearse as much as I’d like since some of us don’t live nearby.  But we make it work.  The crowd went nuts between every song and at the end.  It was sheer madness and some of the most fun I’ve had playing live.

I didn’t really catch anyone else on the second stage.

I just want to say that this little festival is the perfect size as far as the venue and crowd size go.  The promoters treated us like gold and I hope we’re able to come back next year and play the main stage.  I met some awesome people in Chicago and look forward to going back to just hang out.  Also, Leather Leone of Chastain fame was an MC for the show and I got to speak with her several times over those 2 days.  She was awesome.  Very sweet and funny.

Great times!