The Metal Files

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Satan, Cauldron & BAT Concert Review, Richmond, VA, October 23, 2016

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Upon waking up Sunday morning, totally parched and tired, Kelz and I got our stuff together and headed South towards Richmond.  He was a little slower than me that morning so I drove us to Vienna, VA to stop at Vienna Music Exchange.  I had met the owner, Mike, the night before and had been wanting to stop in there for quite some time.  After some traffic snags headed down that way, we finally got to the store and I scored some cool stuff.

From there it was down to Richmond to Petey’s and Amy’s house.  By that time, I was starting to fade a bit.  I didn’t sleep that well and was quite tired by the time we got to Richmond.  Petey was ready to party by the time we got there and I succumbed to doing a shot, which helped immensely even though it was tough to get down.   After a couple of hours of catching up, we decided to head towards the venue and grab some quick grub at the restaurant next to The Broadberry.  Our other friend, Danile, was supposed to come up for this one but unfortunately had to back out.

Upon arrival in the venue, I see Ryan and Felix from BAT.  Good dudes.  Richmond locals, Humungus, opened the show and musically and vocally I thought they were great.  Petey said they had a bit of a Heathen vibe and I don’t disagree.  Both the singer and guitarist did great harmony falsetto work and the bassist and drummer held the rhythm down just fine.  The only thing I didn’t like about them was their lyrical content.  Pretty silly for the some of what I could make out.  Shark CastleDrinkin’ Beer.  Solid band overall and I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

BAT was up next and delivered their Venom-esque set flawlessly as they always do.  I love watching Felix Griffin play drums as he’s just a mean machine back there.  I was getting pretty tired so I sat for part of their set.  As I was at the table in the back of the venue, got to hang out with Mr. Ross a bit more.  Sorry again, Brian, but no more Jager mixers for me!

I didn’t go up front for Cauldron.  I just can’t get into them.  As I mentioned in a previous review, their sound is just too thin.

And then…Satan.  They had a bigger stage this time and could move around a bit.  Since Danile couldn’t make it, Petey drew his face on a plastic cup and we set it at the end of the stage so he could be there in spirit.  Satan got a couple of songs in and then Steve blew his head.  During the change out, Russ and Sean just did a little Voodoo Child rendition and then it was right back into the set.  We got a full set that night as they were shortened by a curfew or anything.  Again, they were awesome.  The crowd had thinned out a bit as it was a Sunday night but we remained up front for the whole set.  Much like the Philly show, I had to get barraged by a person who smelled like hell.  This guy smelled like a chicken house.  It was fucking gross, especially when he started swinging his dreadlocks around.  Luckily he only stayed up for a couple of songs, but goddamn, bathe please.

And just like that, it was over.  I could already feel that little bit of sadness coming on.  But it was a wonderful weekend overall with 2 of my lifelong closest friends.  I couldn’t ask for much more than that.

I called for a Lyft ride to get us back to Petey’s and NWOBHM legend, John Gallagher of Raven, was our fucking driver!  I saw him at the show as he’s old chums with the Satan guys.  We were totally surprised and happy to have a familiar face take us home.  I’ve met John several times and he’s always a gentleman.  I think it was a fitting ending to the night.

Back at Petey’s house, we sat up and hatted for a bit longer and finished off his wife’s homemade beef jerky.  Delicious!   Then off to bed.  Kelz had to get up and be on the road to Raleigh by 830, Petey had to work and Amy, Petey’s wife, had an appt, so not much sleeping in time.  Amy took me the airport and that was that.  Mitchfest over.  I had a lengthy layover in Atlanta and my flight got delayed.  Part of me was hoping for a cancellation as Satan was in town that night, too.  It would have been great to catch a third show, but alas, no luck.

Long live Satan.  Hope they come back in 2017.  I’m hoping to catch Graeme and Steve in the Slyclad reunion in Germany and will definitely see Brian’s Alice Cooper tribute next fall in Newcastle.

Satan and Cauldron Concert Review, Philadelphia, PA, October 22, 2016

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Another road trip?  Sure, why not?  This fall has been very busy concert-wise.  Kelz and I started making plans for seeing Satan on this east coast jaunt several months ago when we first caught wind of the tour.  Once I got the dates, Philadelphia and Richmond made the most sense and I booked my trip.

I flew into Raleigh Friday night after work and we left for Philly Saturday morning.  It was a fun drive up as expected.  Talking trash and eating Utz Red Hot Chips.  I can’t find them in Texas and they’re my favorite.  We made a quick stop in VA for a pork BBQ sandwich and continued our way north to PA.  Delaware has great roads.  Best I’ve ever seen.

We finally got to our hotel around 5:30PM or so and for whatever reason our room wasn’t ready?  They gave us a different type of room than what we asked for and I didn’t have to spoon up with Kelz, so that was a plus.  ha.

I called Lyft to get us over to either Pat’s or Geno’s for a cheesesteak before the show.  Our driver couldn’t figure out how to get into the hotel entrance.  She was pretty much the worst driver ever.  Couldn’t follow the navigation properly, didn’t wear her seatbelt and was generally just an idiot.  Once we finally got to the cheesesteak places, lines were around the block so we took the decision to just walk over to the venue, Boot & Saddle, and grab something there.  As we turned the corner, Sean and Steve were getting a few things from the trailer and we spoke to them briefly as Graeme showed up.  He needed some wine so they went to a liquor store to take care of business.  We went inside and grabbed 2 seats at the bar and ordered some food.  Perogis and a corn dog it is!

Ran into some friends there and as we were finishing up dinner, Brian Ross from Satan walks by and I said, “Hey Brian, how’s it going?”  He was surprised to see us and hung out with us for quite a while.  The venue door was open during Horrendous’ set and I didn’t care.  We just stayed where we were and hung with Brian and Russ and whoever else came up.  Brian was telling us of his favorite drink, equal parts Jagermeister and Fireball, dubbed The Firemeister.  It sounded gross but we did a round of them anyhow.  It was gross.  I hate Jager.  I also got a full download on Brian’s Alive Cooper tribute band that he does.  He was showing us photos of his stage show.  It’s a full on reproduction of Alice’s live show.  I’m planning on attending the show in Newcastle in 2017.  With only a few songs left of Cauldron, who we also only heard through the venue door from the bar, Brian scooted off to get his make up for the show.  As people shuffled out of the gig for drinks or whatever, we shuffled in to secure spots near the stage.

Satan hit the stage and opened with Trial By Fire and Blades of Steel.  The small room was packed and the band was slightly cramped on the small stage.  Not a lot of room for moving around for a 5pc band.  They sounded great as always.  Brian’s voice was brilliant.  If you have ever seen them live, you know how good they are.  Still amazed that a band that has only been rejuvenated in recent years can still bring it about as hard as any newer band.  As expected, the set was a good mix of all three of the Ross-era studio albums.

After the show we go back into the bar area and hang out with friends and the Satan guys came right out after to take photos with fans (like us) and sign stuff.  A couple more of those gross Firemeisters were had and neither Kelz nor myself were feeling much pain.  haha.  It was starting to get late and we were both hungry and needed to soak up the buzz a bit, so we got some Chinese food to go from the place next to the venue and got a quick Lyft ride back to the hotel.  This guy was a much better driver.  Back at the hotel, were were just eating and laughing and having a grand time.  Then the fade hit.  We needed to get to sleep so we could head south to Richmond for Sunday’s show.

Quite a wonderful night.  Met some great people.  If there was anything negative to say about the evening it would be that the dude standing in front of me for the Satan set had body odor that smelled like a litter box.  That sucked.

 

Written by The Metal Files

October 25, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Satan & Night Demon Concert Review, West Hollywood, CA, March 26, 2016

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What a weekend!  I’m completely wiped out this morning but here goes…

I go see Satan any chance I get.  I love Satan!  Unfortunately they aren’t doing any Texas dates this year so I took the opportunity to go see them at the famous Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood.  Even more, my good friends in Night Demon were playing direct support.  It was slated to be a win-win!

I had a super early flight from Austin to LAX and didn’t sleep well the night before.  Bummer.  Anyhow, I arrived in LA at 830AM Pacific time and there was some sort of weird mix up with the rental car.  Let’s just say that I’ll never try and use Payless Rentals again.  I ended up at Enterprise having to try and book something on the spot.  That’s never easy to do in LA as I’ve found out before.  The only available cars that they had were classified as exotics and there were only a few to choose from.  They handed me a rate sheet with the car selection and the cheapest one on there was a 2016 white Camaro SS convertible.  I gave a bit of a sob story to the guy that was helping me and he gave me some discounts.  It was still more than I had planned to pay but whatever.  I figured that the weather was nice, I’m in LA for just a short time, I might as well enjoy it as much as I can.  So off I went with the top down, the 80s metal cranked up and two suitcases full of Cirith Ungol and Night Demon shirts in the back seat that I was delivering for a friend.  I cruised around LA a bit, ate at Pinches Tacos on Santa Monica Blvd then went to the hotel to check in.  I was pretty tired and with the long night ahead and the 2 hour time difference, I was going to need all the rest I could get.  Unfortunately that rest only lasted about 30-45 minutes.  Too much noise around.  Oh well.  I went to do some exploring and ended up at Amoeba Music.  The place is huge and I couldn’t find a thing that appealed to me.

It was getting close to load in time so I called for a Lyft ride and took the aforementioned shirts along with me.  Night Demon had just started loading in and a good friend from Mexico was already there so we chatted while the bands worked.  Satan hadn’t arrived yet as they had some issues in San Francisco the night before and had to get some things worked out.  After Night Demon finished their load in, Jarvis and new Night Demon guitarist, Armand, Sarai and I went over to the Rainbow for dinner.  This was my first time back at the Rainbow since Lemmy died.  Lemmy died.  That’s still not easy to write or think about.  The group secured a table and I went to the outside bar to the corner and just spent a moment there in reflection.  It was good.  Back to the table and Armand and I ordered a Jack and Coke in honor of the man and we ordered a pizza for the group.  I love their pizza.  As we were eating, Sebastian Bach and his family/a family came in.  I just said hello as he walked by and it was returned with a “hey man”.  San Antonio Rodney showed up as did Night Demon’s drummer, Dustin, and we hung out for a little longer before heading back to The Whisky.

Once inside we made our way upstairs to the dressing rooms where Sean Taylor, Brian Ross and Steve Ramsey of Satan were hanging out.  Sean and I caught up for a bit while Brian and Steve were being interviewed.  After their interview, Russ Tippins and Graeme English arrived.  I really do love these guys.  All class and super kind and all very funny.  They were obviously still a bit worn out from the night before and their drive so I went downstairs to meet up with some other friends.  Some of the opening acts had already played and locals Resistance were just coming on when we got downstairs.  I couldn’t get into them at all although one of the guitarists had some good lead breaks.

Up next was Night Demon.  As I mentioned before, Armand was now in the band replacing Brent Woodward.  I love Brent.  All around solid guy and loved my tacos when he and Night Demon were in town.  I’ve known Armand for several years as his old band, New Liberty, played Austin several times during SxSW in 2011 or 2012.  Dustin from Night Demon was also in that band and it was through him that I got introduced to Night Demon when my old band played with them in Chicago at Ragnarokkr in 2014.  As much as I hated to see Brent gone, I’m elated to see that his replacement was Armand.  He’s a killer guitarist.  and was also recently in Gygax and I highly recommend their latest album, Critical Hits.  Night Demon opened up with Screams in the Night and blasted right into Full Speed Ahead, which is one of my faves.  Armand sounded great with them and brings a bit of a different vibe to their live show.  They played 7 tracks overall and were right on point as always.  I’ll see them again in a couple of weeks in San Antonio and Austin with the mighty Visigoth.

Up next came NWOBHM legends Satan.  I can’t say enough about this band on a personal level and on a performance level.  The band is practically perfect live and I’d go see them every chance I could.  They opened with Siege Mentality, Incantations, The Devil’s Infantry and Twenty Twenty-Five.  That’s the same four they opened with the night before but then they changed it up and played Break Free from Court in the Act.  That album is so good.  All told they played 5 from their great latest album, Atom by Atom, 8 from Life Sentence and 4 from Court in the Act.  I’m still utterly amazed at Brian Ross’ vocal abilities.  The whole band was awesome and it was especially nice to hear them on a quality PA system.  I was a bit surprised that the show didn’t sell out but it was good to see people singing along to Night Demon’s and Satan’s sets.

I ran into Tim Baker from Cirith Ungol.  What a nice guy.  He gave me some stickers.   I saw Robert Garven as well but we didn’t get to speak much as he was on his way out the door.  I also got to see my friend from Austin, Allie.  Quite the pleasure seeing her again as well.

After the show we headed back to the dressing rooms.  The band was packing their stuff as they had an early flight out for their next show in Portland.  We said our goodbyes and I told them I’d see them on one of their east coast dates in October.  Right before walking out of the dressing room, I was recognized by a girl I had met at the Cathouse Live show at Irvine Meadows last year.  She was wearing a killer Toxik shirt, too, so that’s major points with me!  It was great making that connection with her again.  Said my “see you later” to her, Satan and the Night Demon guys and headed back to the restaurant by the hotel for a late night bite to eat.  Service was slow and Rodney bailed.  My LA friend, Sabrina, and I stuck it out, ate and she took a ride back to get her car by the Rainbow and I was fading fast.  I went back into my room and pretty much passed out as I hadn’t been to sleep, real sleep, in almost 24 hours.  Unfortunately I was only able to sleep for about 3 hours as I have a hard time sleeping while the sun is out.

After checking out, I spent some time just driving around LA.  Made a quick trip into Venice to see Cameron and Rell.  She and I have been friends for a long time from when we both lived in Norfolk. She moved to Austin after me, met Cameron, moved to Venice and then got married.  Always great seeing them.

After that I headed up to Studio City to meet with someone whom I’ve loved since first hearing her music…Betsy from Bitch!  We had been in contact a few times in the last 15 years or so and I asked her if she had time to meet up as I’d love to get her signature in The Book.  She agreed and we met in town for about an hour.  It was really awesome to be sitting there with her.  We spent about an hour together, she told me some stories about the band, her current drummer showed up, she signed the book, snapped a few fotos with me and then we were both on our separate ways.  I can’t thank her enough for that time.  She’s pretty damned cool.

I was slated to turn my car in by 5 as I had a 7PM flight home.  I got notice that my flight was delayed for 2 hours but went ahead and turned it in as I was getting charged an hourly rate.  I couldn’t have asked for a better 2 days of 78 degrees and clear skies to be driving around with the top down, though.

Once at the airport, I just waited it out at Gene and Paul’s “Rock N Brews” for a beer and some tacos that weren’t that good.  I tried catching a few z’s on the plane but couldn’t as I couldn’t get comfortable, even with the whole row to myself.  I finally got to bed around 230 Central time, extremely tired by extremely pleased with the whole fast weekend in LA.  California always sets me right, even with the fakeness and the deplorable traffic.  Something in the air for sure.  BUT…I’m always ready to get back to Texas.

 

 

Satan “Atom By Atom” Album Review (2015)

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cover_onlineSatan have returned again with a new offering for 2015 on Listenable Records entitled “Atom By Atom” and it’s everything you’d expect after 2013’s Life Sentence.

This album rolls hard from beginning to end and proves once again that the guitar duo of Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins is damn near untouchable.  Brian Ross’ vocals are on point and his patented high wails are ever prominent in all the right places.  After their Richmond, VA show in 2013, my friend asked Brian how he’s maintained his voice so well since “Court In the Act”.  Brian simply replied with, “It’s my job.”  And he still does it well.

“Atom By Atom” features 10 tracks and one thing I’ve noticed is that this album seems a bit darker lyrically than their last album and even “Court In the Act”.

Let’s go track by track:

  1. Farewell Evolution – The album opens with Brian’s falsetto, and lyrically tackles the lack of critical thinking in modern society.
  2. Fallen Saviour – “Some still believed that he’d return to save them”.  I think you can figure out the rest of the sentiment here.  I love the guitar solos in this one.
  3. Ruination – This is one of my favorites on the album so far.  The combination of the riffs and rhythm section matched with Ross’ descending vocal pattern just makes for a clean song.
  4. The Devil’s Infantry – Sean Taylor and Graeme English open this one with a marching pattern.  Lyrically what you’d think based on the title.  It all works so perfectly.  The breakdown/transition mid-song is killer.
  5. Atom By Atom – The opening riff on this gives me chills.  “Out to get you, atom by atom.”  You can hear Russ’ distinctive vocals in that part and it just sounds wonderful.  The solos are both crushing as well.
  6. In Contempt – What Satan album would be complete with a song dealing with judgement?  No worries here.  You got it and shan’t be disappointed!
  7. My Own God – Brian lays it out in this one with, “I am my own God, I made myself, broke the mold, life is what I make it, I will not be told.”
  8. Ahriman – Lyrically dealing with Zoroastrianism, of which I am not too familiar.  Great song though.  Love the backing vocals in the chorus.
  9. Bound In Enmity – This is a total fist pumper.  Riffs and licks for days.
  10. The Fall of Persephone – Final track on the record.  A bit of a slow roller and took a few extra listens to warm up to completely.  English has some great bass licks that really stand out.  This one clocks in at almost 7 minutes and has several parts.  The dueling guitar solos are perfect.

I really cannot praise this album enough.  It’s everything I expected and more and I can’t wait to get a physical copy in my hands and especially can’t wait to catch them live again.  If I could give only one critical opinion about this album, it would be in the drum production, mainly the snare.  On much of the album it’s just a bit too bright but really doesn’t detract from Sean’s solid playing or from the album itself.

Long live Satan and thanks to Listenable Records for letting me review this!

10/10!

Satan are:

Brian Ross
Russ Tippins
Steve Ramsey
Graeme English
Sean Taylor

l-r: English, Taylor, Tippins, Ramsey, Ross

l-r: English, Taylor, Tippins, Ramsey, Ross

Written by The Metal Files

September 19, 2015 at 11:20 pm

Satan Concert Reviews, San Antonio and Austin, TX, October 21-23

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Days 2-4 of Mitchfest with Kelz consisted of 3 straight shows with Satan in San Antonio and Austin and it’s just easier to satanALLIMG_6402combine the reviews all in one post.

We mess around Austin for a little bit before heading back to the house to rest up for Tuesday night’s show with Satan in San Antonio at The Korova.  We got there a little before Satan showed up and helped them load their personals from the van to Korova’s green room.  They looked pretty good after playing Houston the night before.  They recognized us from the Richmond show earlier in the year.  Satan was being backlined on this tour by the venue and/or the opening acts.  Seemed that there were a few compatibility issues with guitar heads to the effects that Ramsey/Tippins used but those quickly got fixed with the arrival of a couple of Marshall amps.

Austin based Firestarter ’82 opened the show and I stuck around for their set as their bassist is a good pal of mine.  She did a fine job as always.  Local thrashers, Aggravator, played next but we missed them as we were having a couple of drinks next door.

We get back right before Satan hits the stage and as expected, they delivered an awesome set to about 40-45 people.  The crowd size was quite unfortunate, especially for a city that often touts itself as the metal capital of the USA.  Things change I guess.  And it was a Tuesday night…but still.  How often are you going to get the chance to see Satan?  Satan played flawlessly as expected.  They were great when we saw them in Richmond this year and I expected no less this time.  They did not disappoint.  It really can’t be stated enough how great of a guitar duo Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey are.  Ross’ vocals are stellar, especially for a 61 yr old man who can still belt out the falsetto with no problem.  Sean and Graeme held the bottom down as Satan rolled through a mostly similar set to earlier this year with only a few changes.  They were awesome and have become one of my favorite live bands.  Brian’s not a big talker between songs beyond introducing the next song and I’m fine with that.

It was also great seeing some old pals that I hadn’t seen in a while, namely Rob Doom, Jaime, Mando and of course Rodney who was the show promoter.  A new friend, Henri, came in from Holland just to see these shows with Satan and Militia.  Pretty cool!

Kelz and I left promptly after the show for the 75 minute drive back to Austin.  Of course it was full of conversation about the show and old times.

Satan Setlist The Korova, San Antonio, TX, USA 2014

Day 3 of this Mitchfest didn’t consist of much other than foraging around town for food and resting.  This night’s show consisted of Satan, local speed/thrash metal legends Militia and my band, Eternal Champion, opening up.  What a perfect bill of classic styled metal!  We had to be at the venue by 730 to load in and we were backlining all bands that night.  We did a quick rehearsal and then headed over to Beerland to load in.  We got everything set up and then grabbed a quick slice of pizza and a beer across the street to wash it down.  There was a good crowd rolling in after the doors opened at 9.  Lots of friends who work for one of my company’s clients came.  It was awesome seeing a bunch of non-metalhead friends show some support like that.
We hit the stage a little after 10PM and breezed steadily through our set.  Minus my bass being out of tune for the first verse of the first song (wtf?), the set seemed tight and was extremely fun.  The crowd was right up front with us and it was a blast.
Up next came one of my favorite bands, Militia, who have been here since the mid-80s and reemerged about 5 years ago.  Original drummer Phil Achee came to town from Alabama to play this show and it was great seeing/hearing him on the skins again.  It just felt right.  Mike Soliz’ vocals were on point and I’m still amazed every time I see and hear him on stage.  He’s a beast of a singer and one awesome guy.  I think they gained a lot of new fans that night.
And then Satan.  The crowd had thinned out a little but not that much and Satan rolled through the same set as the night before.  I enjoyed seeing and hearing Graeme playing through my bass rig.  He made it sound a lot better.  haha.  After finishing their main set and destroying everyone who was left for their set, the house lights came on and the music from the soundboard started playing.  The band was a little disappointed that they didn’t get to play their encore.  So was I.  But it was a great show.  I’ve not had that much fun playing a show in ages and getting to do that with 2 of my favorite bands made it even more special.

Satan Setlist Beerland, Austin, TX, USA 2014

Day 4.  We’re tired.  Lack of sleep, not eating properly etc was catching up to my old ass.  haha.  We went out and got some tacos and bounced around to a few places before getting the nod from Satan’s tour manager that they were ready to eat.  I had offered to take them to my favorite BBQ joint in town and we chowed down.  Two of them are vegetarians so their options were limited but they seemed satisfied.  The others loved the ribs, sausage and pork tenderloin.  I think they were happy to just get something that wasn’t pizza or from a fast food restaurant.  I have to admit that it was a bit surreal having a meal with those guys.  Yeah, they’re just people, I know that.  But they’re also people that I’ve been listening to since the early 80s.  It was fun.
This night’s show featured a totally different lineup consisting of Sweat Lodge, Ditch Witch and Natur, all bands that I’m not into in the least.  Not at all.  0%.  Although I think Natur could be a little more workable to me if their riffs went somewhere.  These bands also draw the “we dress like we’re 1975 hippies”.  I’m pretty sure most of them were born in the mid to late 80s.  Not my thing but whatever.
I stayed outside for the two openers and watched about half of Natur’s set.  I was strictly there for Satan.  As they were setting up, Kelz and I staked our spots right up front.  I wondered how many people there would be familiar with them but it seemed like a decent amount of people were.  A pit lasted throughout most of the set and Kelz and I were flung to the stage a few times each, but I didn’t mind.  It wasn’t a violent pit at all and reminded me of the 80s a bit.  Satan played through their set and were great again.  Two nights in a row they didn’t get to do their encore.  They also didn’t do their instrument as there was no where for Brian to stand during that song.  He had trouble getting to to the stage during the opening song as the crowd was packed up there.  Again, Satan destroyed another show.  After finally getting kicked out after closing, we were exhausted.  Completely.  Totally worth it.
This show marked the last night of MitchFest.  It was great seeing Kelz come to my city and hang out.  We had a blast and always look forward to the next gathering of Mitches.

Satan Concert Review, Richmond, VA 04/15/2014

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What a whirlwind of shows I have been though in the last couple of weeks.  I’m tired.  So tired.  But it’s a good tired and my music fetish is being well served lately.

So ‘back in the day’ cerca 1984, my friend Daniel (Danile) bought Satan’s Court in the Act and shared it with Kelz, Petey and me and the rest is metal history.  I’ve loved this album since it first hit my ears.  Brian Ross’ vocals mixed with those awesome NWOBHM styled riffs made for a perfect album.  The 4 of us have always been close friends, played in bands together and never lost touch over the years.  We’re bound by metal, friendship, life events (good and bad) and have always been there for one another as needed.

Flash forward 30 years and the 4 of us still adore this album.  When Satan announced a small US tour, there was no way I was going to miss it.  I knew that I’d have to travel somewhere and luckily Richmond, VA was on the list…surprisingly so.  So we started planning the trip.  Kelz and Danile have kids and going out of town on a weeknight was going to be a little more difficult because of family and work obligations but they made it happen.  I’m sure there was some sort of bribery or Jedi mind tricks with their wives.  And that was that.  Another MitchFest was in the works, this time with all 4 of us.  I flew into Raleigh and stayed Monday night with Kelz and the fambly.   Always great hospitality at their house.  Tuesday morning we headed to Suffolk, VA to grab Danile and quickly headed up ti Petey’s house in Richmond.  Unfortunately the wife and kids were out on errands so I didn’t get to see them this time.  The car ride was as expected.  Mama jokes, old stories of our younger years, gushing about metal etc.  Before getting to Richmond, we decided to stop and grab a bite to eat at a BBQ place in Chester, VA.  I love the NC/VA style of pork  BBQ.  I can’t get it in Texas.  My sandwich was perfect, exactly what I needed.

We get to Petey’s and are greeted by his awesome wife, Amy.  He gets home shortly after and after some adult conversation and life and things that matter, the roundtable of silliness begins again.  We’re perpetually 13 years old when we’re all together and it’s a great time.  Now it’s time to get ready for the show.

Satan are playing Strange Matter in Richmond which used to be Twisters and then later Nancy Raygun.  I’ve seen a handful of shows there since the mid-90s and always like the place.  It used to be a bit of a dump, but it had its charm.  It’s been cleaned up quite a bit and I’m glad that location is still doing shows.  Before going in, we park then grub at a pub on the next block.  Just a good time having a meal and a couple of beers with my best friends.

We walk back over to the venue, get our swag out of the car and go in.  I see my pal Tony “Dio” from NC who I’ve known since about 1997 when we met at a Judas Priest show in Norfolk.  I had just seen him the week before at Rangarokkr.  As we’re standing around jibber jabbering, I see John Gallagher from Raven walk in.  How cool is that?  I’ve never been a fan of the band but I did have lunch with him and his brother and their families in 2000 before their show at Jaxx in Springfield, VA.  Nicest guy.  I check out the merch table to hopefully get a Satan shirt, but no luck in my size.  The cool thing was seeing my band’s 7″ on the merch table.  Our label was managing the Satan tour so it was great to meet those guys.

The first band to go on is Salvacion, a band from NC which has the drummer for Volture.  They were OK.  I couldn’t quite gauge exactly what they were going for.  The did a very uncomfortable version of Dokken’s Unchain The Night.  I think I would have enjoyed them more if it wasn’t for the drummer.  I get into that a little bit more when I talk about Volture.

Next up was BAT which features Felix Griffin (DRI) on drums and Ryan Waste (Municipal Waste/Volture) on vocals/bass and Volture’s Nick Poulos on guitar.  They come on and run through a blistering set of thrash/speed metal songs that were all about 3 minutes long.  Old school style.  They were solid and Felix really ripped it up in single bass style on a 4 pc drumset.  I enjoyed it and would love to see them again.

Right after BAT played, I feel a hand on my shoulder and hear a voice say my name.  I turn around and it was a girl that I had dated briefly in 1991 and that I hadn’t seen since right around that time.  She had seen on Facebook that I was in town and just stopped in to say hello.  She couldn’t stay as her husband and kid were outside in the car.  I swear she was only there for about 3 minutes and even paid to get in.  I was floored by the gesture.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  That’s the type of person she always was.  Very thoughtful.  It was a special moment for sure.  I’m still a bit “wow’d” by the whole thing.

Volture comes on next and I hadn’t really paid much attention to them in the past.  There’s just so much out there that I can’t keep up any more.  The members are a mishmash of members from Municipal Waste, Immortal Avenger, Twisted Tower Dire, BAT etc.  I really liked the vocals.  The guy has some great pipes and the guitarists are perfect.  But the drummer…I just can’t take it.  He was doing way too many Rikki Rokkett type moves instead of worrying about keeping good time.  I’m a drummer as well.  I’m hyper critical of other drummers that I see.  When he was just playing the beat and not doing dumb stick tricks, his timing was fine.  But when he’d go into circus mode, the timing would fluctuate, he wasn’t hitting the snare cleanly and it would drop out of the mix and he tended to keep time on his bass drum to where he’s hitting the bass and snare at the same time.  Sorry, it just annoyed me to no end.  Obviously his band has no issue with it, but I would for sure. :)  But again, overall they sounded killer.

And then…Satan…SATAN.  I never ever thought in my lifetime that I’d get to see them live.  Right as Volture ended we made our way to the front of the stage.  Danile and I were right on the barricade and Kelz and Petey were right behind us.  Satan opens up with Trial By Fire and Ross’ vocals are on point.  He skipped the first scream in the song and I though ‘uh oh, he can’t do it any more.’  And then there it was.  His patented high notes came on cue everywhere else in the song and the rest of the set.  I was completely in awe as to how well he still sings.  He sounded perfect.  They ran though a mix of songs from Court in the Act, Life Sentence, a couple of early demos and one from Into the Future of which Brian wasn’t the singer.  They added No Turning Back mid-set which was a nice surprise.  Of course we were hoping to hear the whole Court album but I have no complaints whatsoever about the set.  They were incredible.  Ramsey/Tippins are still a formidable guitar duo and the songs on their latest album prove that.  It was just such a powerful set.  Still blown away as to how good Ross’ vocals are.

After the show, most people leave and we stick around to meet the Satan guys.  Success!   They all come out after a little break and sign swag, take pictures with us nerds etc.  It was especially nice to be sitting between Sean Taylor and John Gallagher listening to them talk about gifts they’ve sent to each others kids and some “back in the day” kinds of things.

It’s been a week since the show and I am still buzzing about it.  Really a once in a lifetime show.  Even more, I got to spend some quality time with my three best friends.  That was as important as the show.  It’s really nice knowing that even if we don’t see each other that often these days, we can always pick up right where we left off.  Love those guys.

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Satan – Life Sentence Album Review

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Growing up in a house where I had parents who weren’t so keen on me listening to heavy metal, I had to be careful of what I brought satan-court-in-the-acthome to listen to.  Certainly a band called Satan wasn’t going to do me any favors with mom, no matter that the band wasn’t “satanic” at all.  I believe I had an unmarked dubbed tape version for years which got me through my teens.

Satan’s full length debut, Court in the Act, came out in 1983 and it didn’t grace my ears probably until about 1984 or 1985 after Metal Blade Records picked the album up for USA distribution.  To be straightforwardly honest, Court in the Act is probably my favorite NWOBHM release ever, Iron Maiden’s back catalog notwithstanding.  The album was perfect, mainly because of the clean vocal stylings of Brian Ross.  Easily one of my favorite singers of all time.  After Brian left, they followed up with 2 other releases, Into the Future and Suspended Sentence, and to be honest I thought they were terrible.  Looking back, it was the new vocalist that killed it for me.

Court has remained in steady rotation for the last 25+ years and will continue to be.  A year or so ago new came out that Satan was reuniting with the original lineup to record a new album.  To say I was hesitant about hearing a new album by a band that hadn’t done anything in almost 30 years is an understatement.  Typically reunion albums suck.

Satan’s 2013 release entitled Life Sentence, however, does not suck.  Not in the least.  To be truthful, this album is pretty stellar.  I finally picked it up last week and have listened to it at least 4 times.

Ross’ vocals sound great and not over-produced or “fixed”.  The album as a whole has a very raw sound.  Very natural and a perfect followup to Court.  Sure, Brian’s no spring chicken now and hitting those sweet high notes like he used to do isn’t really possible, but it doesn’t detract to a great vocal performance on Life Sentence.

The whole album just sounds like Satan should.  Clean, powerful, melodic.  True NWOBHM.  The songs are catchy and memorable.  I am SATANcover1400x1400quite pleasantly surprised as to how good the album is.  Time to Die, Twenty Twenty Five, Tears of Blood and Another Universe are the standout tracks for me.  If I had to pick a least favorite, it would be the title track, Life Sentence.  Not a bad song by any means, but just didn’t grab my ear like the rest of the album.

That being said, if you’re even a minor fan of Court in the Act, get Life Sentence ASAP.  You shall not be disappointed.

9/10

 

Written by The Metal Files

October 19, 2013 at 11:42 am