Sunday, August 31, 2008

Metal Masters Tour Review!

Metal Masters Tour

Bands: Judas Priest, Heaven And Hell, Motorhead, Testament

Venue: San Manuel Amphitheatre, Devore, California

Date: August 30, 2008

The amount of legends all on the same bill makes this tour an absolutely must see. With that in mind, I was willing to shell out a few bucks for a seat about 100 feet or so from the stage, and drive 75 miles out to the desert’s edge in Devore, California, a suburb on the far eastern edge of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The list seems to be endless: Rob Halford, Tony Iommi, Lemmy, Chuck Billy, and so on. Needless to say, anticipation was in the air as the amphitheatre was filled to capacity.

Starting right on the dot at 5:30pm just as I arrived in the broiling heat, first up were Bay Area giants Testament, who have made a strong statement with “The Formation of Damnation”, the band’s recent, highly regarded full-length (the band that Metallica should’ve become, but that’s a whole other Oprah). Playing a short set that drew heavily from that album, Testament were obviously giddy to be included on this bill, and were energetic and focused for their half hour slot. The theater was already filling as they began, and the crowd formed a pit all the way up on the lawn, hundreds of feet from the stage. I now make it a point to see Testament in a more intimate setting.

Next up were Motorhead, whom I haven’t seen since about 1984 or so (I know, I’ve been remiss). Fellow scribe Chris Davison was on my mind as a hugely invigorated Motorhead blew through a great set that drew from all over the band’s career. Lemmy’s son Paul joined the fun on stage as a second guitarist for a rousing rendition of “Killed By Death”. Set closers were “Ace of Spades” and “Overkill”.

Graciously playing below Judas Priest were the Dio-fronted version of Black Sabbath, Heaven And Hell. Drawing from the three full-lengths with a mammoth stage set, highlights included “Heaven And Hell”, “The Sign of the Southern Cross”, and the encore “Neon Knights” (“Voodoo” was absent, however). An excellent set as Dio’s pipes were on full display and he shows no sign of diminishing.

Opening with “Dawn of Creation” and “Prophecy” from the double album “Nostradamus”, Rob Halford and Judas Priest take the stage amid smoke and huge lighting effects. Keeping the banter short, Judas Priest were focused as they mostly hit a string of classics and generally stayed away from “Nostradamus”. A huge highlight for me was the inclusion of “Dissident Aggressor”, which I absolutely did not expect. A large amount of older material was included, with “Metal Gods”, “Electric Eye”, “Painkiller”, and “The Green Manalishi (with the Two Prong Crown)” being highlights. The expected “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” closed out the evening.

How often do you get a chance to see so many legends, essentially artists that started the art form that we all worship, all in the same place? Enough said.

Crap pictures...



Heaven And Hell

Judas Priest

Judas Priest

The t-shirt haul...

Even worse video...


Heaven And Hell

Next up (probably)...

Speaking of Motorhead, the trio's latest full-length, "Motorizer", has been getting critical acclaim. An invigorated Lemmy and company continue to release high quality album after album, and that continues with "Motorizer". Hell, even the album cover artwork kicks ass, as usual. I urge you to read Chris Davison's review here.

Motorhead Official


Sorry, song removed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Metal Flows In My Veins Italy Travelogue...

My recent trip to Italy had nothing to do with metal. Instead, it was all about family, friends, wine, and so on. However, I did manage to find items that fit the themes of Metal Flows In My Veins.

Siena's Museum of Torture...

Note the future metalheads

San Gimignano's Museum of Torture

Florence's Museum of Serial Killers

Documents (from the replica in a Florence piazza near the Uffizi)...

The Crypt of the Capuchins...

This guy was awesome. A street performer in a piazza in Rome...


The instruments that changed the world...

The evidence that the Catholic Church refused to believe...

Galileo's final gesture to Catholicism? Not my picture, though.

My humble pilgrimage...

Yes, you guessed it, the t-shirt haul!


The Opeth shirt came in handy on the plane ride back from Rome. Strangely enough, Neurosis were on the same flight! The shirt got notice from Steve Von Till, who commented on my hammer tattoo as we stood next to each other in baggage claim...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Another Brief Blast...

Once again, I recently received a promo that has been subsequently covered by another writer at Live 4 Metal. This time, the album is "Flesh Inferno" by Blackwinds, from Sweden. Here's a brief review...

Blackwinds- Flesh Inferno

(Regain Records)

Sweden's Blackwinds deliver their second full-length, entitled "Flesh Inferno" on Regain Records. For those not familiar, Blackwinds play unabashedly symphonic black metal that take just about every trick in Dimmu Borgir's playbook, run with it, and toss in a bit of latter day Behemoth (and maybe a little bit of Marduk) for good measure. A slick, professional production, bombasity with keyboards galore, the same sort of hockey-pad style leathered spike getups, the works. Throw in rasped vocals that are almost a dead ringer for Mortuus from Marduk, a huge guitar sound, and you have a band that just screams "clone". They do it all with panache and flair, though, ultimately resulting in an enjoyable, if utterly forgettable, release. Judge for yourself. You can read Crin's review here.

Regain Records

Blackwinds Official

Sorry, song removed.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lake of Blood... and an interesting juxtaposition...

The following review will appear soon at Live 4 Metal, but Milkweed Records asked me for a review of the debut EP from Lake of Blood through Metal Flows In My Veins...

Lake Of Blood- Heed The Primal Calling

(Milkweed Records)

Lately, I’ve been taking more notice of emerging bands from Southern California with some impressive newcomers in the form of Ruines Ov Abaddon (blackened death metal) and Reciprocal (technical death metal). Add to that list Lake Of Blood, a slightly melodic black metal band with the release of their debut, four-song EP entitled “Heed The Primal Calling” on Milkweed Records.

Comparisons to the ecologically themed bands of the Pacific Northwest, such as Agalloch, Blood Of The Black Owl, and, maybe, Wolves In The Throne Room come to mind with environmental themes present in the music and a melodic take on the genre without the use of keyboards. Fast riffing, variations in tempo from a mid-pace to all out blasts, and some guitar melodies with acoustics are all present on “Heed The Primal Calling”.

Although not as mature as some of the aforementioned giants, what is notable about “Heed The Primal Calling” is that it is the first release from the band; that is, no known demos have been circulated (at least, according to Encyclopaedia Metallum). The songwriting and musicianship are solid, as is the deliberately rough production, and all point to a talent to take note of for future releases. Overall, “Heed The Primal Calling” is an excellent first impression.

Lake of Blood Official

Sorry, song removed.

Also, I encourage you to read the following articles. I find it interesting that elements in Western countries, supposedly tolerant and encouraging towards self-expression and political commentary, label heavy metal as for the mentally ill.

Report: Heavy Metal Fans More At Risk of Developing A Mental Illness

The following appeared in today's Washington Post. Interesting that the epitome of intolerance, radical Islam, is beginning to find common ground with metal.

Islam and Heavy Metal

I welcome your thoughts and comments...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Relapse Contamination Tour!!! I Die For Metal!!!

Bands: Origin, Misery Index, Abysmal Dawn, and local support

Venue: Safari Sam’s, Hollywood, California

Date: August 1, 2008

After the awful Summer Slaughter tour from a few weeks back, technical death metal of the highest caliber is just what I needed. That arrived in Hollywood on a Friday night in the form of the Relapse Contamination Tour, featuring Origin, Misery Index, Abysmal Dawn, and three local support bands.

Safari Sam’s in dumpy, downtown Hollywood was packed for this show, one of the only truly all death metal shows of the summer. First up was Dominance, a local act lacking a bassist with whom I was not familiar. Surprisingly, Dominance were actually pretty good with solid, fast riffs and drumming. Find a bassist, crank out a proper demo, and we’ll see what happens. Next up were Obliterated, who turned out to be the weakest band of the evening (they did have a song entitled "Invisible Oranges", however). Still, a bunch of their friends were in attendance, and they managed to get a pit going. I spent their set propped up against the bar.

Reciprocal were next, a band that has formed from the ashes of Gatekeeper and a few other local acts. I see these guys in show audiences all of the time. Frankly, they were great with excellent technical death metal and their three song demo was selling like hotcakes after their set. They are preparing an album for early next year, so watch for it.

At this time, I made my way to the merchandise tables, where I promptly bought a t shirt from Origin bassist Mike Flores. I also asked him a question that’s been on my mind since the band’s self titled debut, and that is, “What does the Horsehead Nebula have to do with death metal?” “Absolutely nothing, it just looks fuckin’ cool”, he replied. Agreed.

At any rate, I also picked up an Abysmal Dawn t shirt from guitarist/ vocalist Charles Elliot.

Abysmal Dawn were next and played a huge set with equal emphasis placed upon both of their full-lengths. Opening with “Programmed To Consume”, Abysmal Dawn were firing on all cylinders as a huge pit opened up for the duration. Monstrous.

I crammed myself right to stage center for Misery Index, who absolutely fucking smoked with an unbelievable set. Adam Jarvis was simply inhuman behind the kit as Misery Index roared through their set, which included a few songs from the band’s upcoming full-length, “Traitors”. 2008 has been shaping up to be a banner year for death metal, and I eagerly await the release of “Traitors”.

Origin were next and just blew everyone away, even though they played as a quartet without Jeremy Turner. Adam Jarvis owned this night behind the kit, but John Longstreth was unreal, as well, as Origin played unbelievably fast and were tight as Hell.

Needless to say, this was a great show that came at just the right moment during a rather dismal, concert going summer. Here's the usual garbage...


The t shirt haul



Abysmal Dawn

Misery Index

Misery Index



The video...


Abysmal Dawn

Misery Index

Misery Index



Next up (note the incorrect band sequence)...

Friday, August 01, 2008

Brief Blasts From Finland...

Here are a couple of brief reviews of the latest full-lengths from Finland's Alghazanth and Sotajumala. Both bands have been recently covered by other writers at Live 4 Metal, but, once again, I also received promos of the albums from Woodcut Records, a solid Finnish label.

Sotajumala- Teloitus

(Woodcut Records)

Death metal war machine Sotajumala return with their second full-length entitled "Teloitus" (all song titles and lyrics are in Finnish). 2004's "Death Metal Finland", the debut full-length, was a solid slab of mid-paced death metal taking a page from war themed bands such as Bolt Thrower and so on. Sotajumala are not terribly original, but all of the requisite tricks of death metal are present: solid riffs, musicianship, songwriting, and a powerful production. You can read Sam Thomas' review of the album here.

Sotajumala Official

Alghazanth- Wreath Of Thevetat

(Woodcut Records)

Alghazanth return after a four year absence with their fifth full-length, entitled "Wreath Of Thevetat". Solid symphonic black metal with all out blasts and plenty of keyboard and guitar melodies, Alghazanth have been around for quite awhile. Altough I didn't really get into their last full-length, "The Polarity Axiom" from 2004, "Wreath Of Thevetat" is quite good. You can read Crin's review here.

Alghazanth Official

Sorry, songs removed.