Author: Misael (page 1 of 5)

Possessed: Whisky A Go Go – Hollywood, Ca – 1/10/19

Possessed is a death metal band from the San Francisco Bay Area. They are heavily credited as the first death metal band as well as the pioneers of death metal for Jeff Becerra’s guttural vocals, super-fast drumming, and guitar tremolo picking. Possessed has only released two studio albums Seven Churches (1985) and Beyond the Gates (1986) along with the EP, The Eyes of Horror (1987). Possessed is currently at work on their third album to be released by Nuclear Blast which hopefully means will get a release this year and would make their first studio album in almost 33 years. Possessed disbanded in 1987, but reformed in 2007 with Becerra still on vocals and with a new lineup and have been touring ever since. You’ll notice that Becerra performs in a wheelchair. This is due to him being shot at a robbery in 1989 which left him paralyzed from the chest down. Still, Possessed puts on one of the wildest performances seen from any death metal band. Possessed announced a short three-date tour with two of them being back to back at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood and the third in Oakland. To no surprise, both shows at the Whisky were sold out and so it was set to be one for the books even on a Thursday night. After enduring six local opening acts, the Whisky was packed to what felt like over-capacity as LA’s metal scene was more than ready to put  their bodies on the line for Possessed.
The lights went out and the sold out crowd went wild as the members of Possessed made their way to the stage as the demonic grunts over the speaker came on and Possessed started the show with the classic song, Pentagram. Right away, the mosh pits started and it was not a pretty sight to see the audience bashing into each other and leave each other feeling sore for the next few days. Becerra unleashed his evil guttural vocals onto the audience as the show continued with Beyond the Gates followed by The Eyes of Horror. Their music may be over 30 years old, but every note still hits you hard and is almost impossible to keep still and not headbang or raise your horns as Possessed played their brutal death metal and pounded everyone’s ears. Possessed played all their hits including Evil Warriors, Tribulation, Storm in My Mind, and Burning in Hell. Becerra took a quick break to talk to the audience about the new album coming out and thanking the audience for the support after all these years. Possessed continued to pulverize fan’s ears and the fans continued to mosh as the music intro to the film The Exorcist started which is also the intro to the next song, The Exorcist which is one of their most popular songs. The show was nearing the end and Possessed next played Fallen Angel, Death Metal, and ended with Seven Churches. Possessed was preparing to leave the stage, yet fans kept chanting, “one more song!”. Becerra asked, “you want one more!?” and the crowd cheered. Possessed listened and played Satan’s Curse as the shows finale. It was during this song where a couple of fans took a chance and broke the Whisky’s strict rules of no stage diving and crowd surfing. When it’s the last song, it’s best to go all out. Possessed finished the show, thanked the audience, and left the stage. Fans were satisfied by the performance seen sweating, drunk, and lots of smiles going around.

 

Carcass: The Regent – Los Angeles, Ca – 1/5/19

The fourth edition of the Show Your Scars Festival once again took place at the Regent in Downtown Los Angeles. This year’s headliner was the British death/extreme metal legends, Carcass. Lots more underground and old school metal was set in the lineup and  the Los Angeles audience was pumped up and waiting outside in the rain to get in early enough to the show to catch all the bands playing. As all previous SYS shows, this one sold out ahead of time so you know it was going to be a wild night.
Excel is a hardcore punk/crossover thrash metal band from Venice, California. They are one of the major bands from the 1980’s to come out of the crossover scene along with Suicidal Tendencies. Plenty of fans were excited for Excel as they destroyed the venue with classics such as Wreck Your World, Your Life My Life, and Split Image. Excel put on a great performance and surely did not disappoint the already packed venue.
Iron Reagan is an American crossover thrash supergroup from Richmond, Virginia, featuring members of Municipal Waste which are vocalist Tony Foresta and Cannabis Corpse and Municipal Waste bassist Phil “LandPhil” Hall. A band like this always puts on an energetic performance so you know you’re in for a crazy show. In true hardcore punk fashion, Iron Reagan played fast songs that got the mosh pit going and stage divers were still showing up on stage constantly. Iron Reagan didn’t seem to mind fans coming up on stage to party and get wild as fans got up on stage and dove right back in. Iron Reagan played fast and short tunes like Eat Shit and Live, Tongue Tied, Fuck the Neighbors, and even a Cannibal Corpse cover of A Skull Full of Maggots. There was never a dull moment in Iron Reagan‘s performance and fans were left wanting more and seemed to have plenty of energy left.
Lowlife is a crossover thrash/hardcore punk band from Santa Monica, California. Lowlife features the original and founding members of crossover thrash/hardcore punk band Cryptic Slaughter who are Les Evans (guitar) and Scott Peterson (drums). Cryptic Slaughter was originally set to play, but had to change their name due to legal rights and so now go by Lowlife after one of their songs. Despite the name change, fans still chanted the name Cryptic Slaughter because to them, it was Cryptic Slaughter. Regardless of names, Lowlife promised a full Cryptic Slaughter set and they delivered on their promise. Lowlife started the show with Positively and right away, the mosh pits started again along with crowd surfers and stage divers. Fans went wild for Cryptic Slaughter as the band had not played any shows since their initial breakup in 1990 so for most if not all fans in attendance, it was their first time seeing Cryptic Slaughter. Cryptic Slaughter drove the fans wild as they pummeled through classics like M.A.D., Last Laugh, Set Your Own Pace, and Lowlife. It seems Cryptic Slaughter has been revived and is alive and well with their current lineup and will hopefully play again in the area real soon.
The headlining band of the night was Carcass. Plenty of fans were also in attendance with Carcass merch and the packed venue was ready for the death metal legends. The lights went out and the crowd cheered as Carcass made their way to the stage and started the show with Genital Grinder. Carcass‘ performance was flawless as they always are. Fans continued to mosh and crowd surfers continued to make their way to the stage. It seems security was tight in not letting fans stay on stage and would immediately toss them back into the crowd. Carcass‘ heavy music made for some great headbanging and moshing. Songs such as Exhume to Consume, Reek of Putrefaction, Buried Dreams, and No Love Lost allowed fans to let loose and go wild on this rainy Saturday night. The show was coming to an end and they ended with their most famous song, Heartwork. Carcass thanked the audience for coming out and left the stage. Seeing all the carnage from the venue itself, people were sweating like crazy, tired, sleepy, drunk, and everything in between. A very good Saturday indeed and it’s just the beginning of the year.

 

Carcass

 

Lowlife

 

Iron Reagan

 

Excel

Mac Sabbath: Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, Ca – 12/28/18

Captured! By Robots is perhaps one of the strangest, yet interesting acts one will ever see. As the name suggests, the theme of the band is that robots have taken over and the stage is set up like a post-apocalyptic world. Robots named GTRBOT666 (guitar/bass) and DRMBOT0110 (drums) serve as the primary sound of the band while JBOT (vocals) is held captive by the robots shown in chains and dirty clothing. Yes, the robots actually do play the instruments! The music style is grindcore so there’s lots of fast and heavy music with screaming deep growls. The show itself was spectacular and is something you must see to believe. In between songs, the robots would talk trash and insult the audience showing their success of world dominance. The show came to an end when DRMBOT0110 challenged a member of the audience to a drum-off. Loser dies! After a grueling drum battle, the human emerged victorious so he may live to tell the tale. Captured! By Robots is a band worth checking out if they ever come to the area.
     People Mover (PPL MVR) is another very interesting band. If you’ve ever wondered what a band led by Yetis would sound like, this is the band to check out. Their music is a bit hard to categorize as they seem to alternate between stoner metal and autotuning. You may be confused at first as to what exactly you’re looking at, but after a while, you’ll be hypnotized by their movements and music. Almost like a 60’s psychedelic rock band on an acid trip. The band is led by SNWBLL (guitar/vocals), K-Po (bass), and Q (drums). The band is often mischievous on stage taunting each other and trying to communicate with the audience with grunts. The audience had fun watching this interesting band and should be checked out by anyone that likes bizarre bands and music.
     The Dickies are punk rock legends from Los Angeles. To see them on a lineup like this was a bit odd, but still a great choice nonetheless. Plenty of audience members were seen sporting The Dickies merch as well as traditional punk garments like spiked jackets and torn shirts/pants. The Dickies came out and filled the venue with classic punk rock as they have been playing for forty years now. The mosh pits started and the punk rock show was underway. Frontman Leonard Graves Phillips was very energetic and comedic during the whole performance as he would jump and dance showing why he’s one of punk’s greatest frontmen. To go along with the performance, Phillips would bring out a variety of items to go along with the songs played. Some of those items included a dog puppet for Doggie Do, water goggles and snorkel for Waterslide, and even an inflatable sex doll. The Dickies have been around for forty years and they’re clearly not slowing down anytime soon and still have plenty to offer for fans.
     Headlining the show was the Black Sabbath Drive-Thru metal band known as Mac Sabbath. At first, you won’t really think what to think of the name. Once you see them come on stage and hear the music, it will all make sense. Mac Sabbath perform the music of heavy metal godfathers Black Sabbath, but change the lyrics to match that of fast food products. Black Sabbath fans can easily determine the original Black Sabbath song names based on the Mac Sabbath titles. The curtains lifted and revealed on stage to the members of Mac Sabbath which were Grimalice (bass), Slayer MacCheeze (guitar), The Catburglar (drums), and coming out last in a straitjacket, Ronald Osbourne (vocals). Mac Sabbath began their greasy performance with N.I.B.B.L.E. and right away you could feel the two themes coming together like the perfect burger. The next song performed was More Ribs followed by Organic Funeral. Mac Sabbath brought out plenty of toys to play with as Osbourne acted like a clown and really had tricks up his sleeve. One of his tricks involved eating a burger patty prior to the performance of Sweet Beef and vomiting inside of a bucket. He would pretend like he was going to chuck the vomit onto the audience and when he finally did, out came…confetti. Other tricks including spraying the audience with water from ketchup and mustard bottles, and party snakes coming out of bottles. At one point, Osbourne somehow took out a really long straw from his under garments and had his fast food employee chug a beer down one end of the straw as Osbourne drank from the other. During the performance of Frying Pan, Osbourne brought out a frying pan and set it on fire as he prepared to cook his next meal. He brought out a bat and was going to recreate one of the most infamous incidents in metal as he put the bat between the burger buns and bit the head off. Mac Sabbath finished the show and left the stage. The audience wasn’t ready to go home yet and stayed behind. After a little while, Mac Sabbath came out to perform Pair-A-Buns and joining them on stage was The Dickies guitarist, Stan Lee. Osbourne helped himself to some crowd surfing or as he called it, clown surfing. The whole show was highly entertaining and anyone that didn’t show up clearly missed one of the most comical shows of the year.

Mac Sabbath

 

The Dickies

 

PPL MVR

 

Captured! By Robots

Ministry/Alien Weaponry: Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, Ca – 12/21/18

Industrial metal legends Ministry released their fourteenth studio album AmeriKKKant on March 9, 2018. Since the 80’s, Ministry has been releasing angry political songs for those who share the same political views as Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen. Ministry have been touring for the album since before its release and the latest tour was called the AmeriKKKant Tour 2018. On this special occasion, Ministry would be performing their new album in its entirety. The last two stops on the tour were both at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Support came from Carpenter Brut and Alien Weaponry. The final stop of the tour was more than ready for the metal legends and had the venue packed just as Alien Weaponry was getting ready to come on stage.

Alien Weaponry is a three-piece thrash metal band from Waipu, New Zealand, formed in 2010 by brothers Lewis (guitar/vocals) and Henry de Jong (drums). The band is most noted for its fusion of Te Reo Māori (the native language of New Zealand) with thrash metal – delivering emotionally and politically charged stories of conflict and grief with a warrior-like attitude. on June 1, 2018, they released their debut album Tū and even before then, they have been praised by magazines and outlets for their amazing music. This is the band’s very first USA tour and it was obvious they had lots of fans in attendance. Alien Weaponry came out and first gave the fans a traditional New Zealand Haka dance to warm things up. The first song performed was PC Bro. Alien Weaponry showed their thrash metal music to the US fans and they loved it. The next song was Holding My Breath followed by Kai tangata. The audience responded really well to the band as fans raised their horns and banged their heads. With them being the opening act, they had a very short setlist and ended with Rū Ana te Whenua (The Trembling Earth). This is their first USA tour, but surely it was a successful one and made lots of new fans.

The lights went out and the audience cheered as the intro track I Know Words started which involves a remix of Trump’s infamous quote of “We Will Make America Great Again”. As the intro was finishing up, the members of Ministry made their way to the stage and started with the first track from the new album, Twilight Zone. Jourgensen was the last one to come out and was greeted by a huge cheer from the audience. The song made for a great opening song letting you know that Ministry has arrived and what made the song even better was the harmonica being played by Jourgensen. The next songs were Victims of a Clown and We’re Tired of It. Both songs have strong anti-Trump lyrics showing how much Jourgensen hates Trump. The whole time, there was a screen in the background depicting images of war and politicians from the past as well as caricatures of Trump.  The AmeriKKKant album kept being played as Ministry performed tracks like Antifa, Wargasm, Game Over, and finished the set with AmeriKKKa. Ministry left the stage for a bit to catch their breath. After a few minutes, Jourgensen announced that he was done spewing his political beliefs on the audience and would now focus on the band’s old material. Another special occasion was that Ministry was also celebrating the 20th anniversary of their certified gold third album, The Land of Rape and Honey. Ministry would also play select cuts from the album to help celebrate the occasion. The first song from the album played was the title track, The Land of Rape and Honey. A classic industrial metal track. The next classic tracks were were The Missing, Deity, and the popular track, Stigmata. With that album out of the way, Ministry now focused on their best tracks which everyone wanted to hear. The next track played was one of their most popular tracks, Just One Fix. The mosh pits came to life once again and crowd surfers made an appearance as fans also sang along to the song’s chorus. Thieves was up next and is perhaps Ministry‘s most popular song. The mosh pits kept going and crowd surfers kept security up front busy. For the performance of So What, Ministry brought out Chris Connelly to sing who has also worked with Ministry on their albums in the early days and is also a member from Jourgensen’s side project, Revolting Cocks. It was time for the show to come to an end and so Ministry played a very old track called (Everyday Is) Halloween. The previous day was the first time in 32 years that the song had been played so this marked the second time. Another guest was brought out which was Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction for an acoustic performance of the song. Ministry delivered two nights of glorious metal and it’s clear that they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

 

Ministry

 

Alien Weaponry

Stone Sour/Joyous Wolf: House of Blues – Anaheim, Ca – 12/11/18

Stone Sour released their sixth studio album Hydrograd in 2017. Since then, they have been actively touring for the album all over the world. Their current tour came to an end at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California and what better way to welcome the band with a sold out show. Support came from Joyous Wolf and Aeges. The venue filled up quickly with it being packed even by the time Joyous Wolf came out to start the show.

Joyous Wolf is a newly formed rock band from Southern California formed in 2014. The band is still very young with only two tracks available for purchase which are a Mountain cover of Mississippi Queen and the original track, Slow Hand. The band is currently hard at work at releasing their new album so 2019 will be their year to make themselves known even more. Joyous Wolf came out to a packed venue and were welcomed by the audience. Their music is as if 60’s rock never left which was a nice change of pace compared to a lot of rock bands that tend to sound the same. Joyous Wolf was very energetic during their performance  and made sure to leave marks on the audience and surely made lots of new fans. Frontman Nick Reese introduced the song Mississippi Queen by asking the audience if the knew the song. Fans could be seen singing along to this classic tune that surely everyone in the audience knew. Joyous Wolf had a very energetic stage presence and it was nice to see them play to a much bigger audience than what they’re used to playing in much smaller venues. Joyous Wolf had a short set, but they made every minute count and will surely only get bigger as their career expands.

Stone Sour was obviously the main band of the night with plenty of loyal fans in the audience that were eager to see them. The lights went out and the sold out crowd went wild as the members of Stone Sour came out. Singer Corey Taylor also of Slipknot fame was the last one to come as the band started the show with Taipei Person/Allah Tea, the first track from the newest album. Stone Sour was immediately welcomed by the sold out crowd and you could tell Stone Sour was happy to be in the presence of this sold out crowd. The next tracks performed were Do Me a Favor and Knievel Has Landed. Taylor was more than happy to introduce his bandmates to the audience, especially guitarist Josh Rand who he has been writing music with since Rand was 15 years old. Taylor would bring out some props for the fans including a bazooka that shoots out confetti. Stone Sour continued playing hits such as Absolute Zero, 30-30/150, Bother, and Tired which were all beautiful songs by the band. Taylor sang every song to perfection with his amazing vocal skills proving he’s one of rock and metal’s best singers alive. The crowd would sing along to the songs as well as mosh during the band’s heavier songs. Stone Sour played Get Inside from their debut self-titled 2002 album and proved to be one of the best songs of the night as fans went crazy during that song as well as sang along. For the end of the set, Taylor once again brought out a guitar in order to play what is perhaps their most beautiful song, Through Glass. A very emotional song, the crowd stood still in awe and everyone could be seen singing along to this beautiful song. Stone Sour finished the song, thanked the audience, then left the stage. The audience stayed put and chanted for the band to come back out. After a little while, Stone Sour came back out and thanked the audience for all the years of support and would give them a couple of encores. The first encore was the popular track, Made of Scars. To end the night, Stone Sour played the first single from the newest album, Fabuless. A great ending to a great concert as fans let out whatever energy they had left with mosh pits and singing along. Stone Sour left the stage once more, but left nothing but smiles on their fans.

 

Stone Sour

 

Joyous Wolf

Doyle: Whisky A Go Go – Hollywood, Ca – 12/14/18

Legendary Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolgang von Frankenstein released his second solo album As We Die in 2017. When he’s not touring with Misfits, Doyle is off on his solo tour with his bandmates unleashing hell on the road. To promote the album, Doyle once again embarked on a USA tour called As We Die World Abomination Tour 2018. One of the stops was at the world-famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip. Finally at 11:45pm after enduring seven opening bands, it was time for the Vegan Metal Monster to come out and raise hell to the packed venue for the second of two shows performed there.

His bandmates came on stage first and Doyle himself stomped his way to the stage as the final member as they started the show with Kiss Me As We Die, the opening track from Doyle‘s newest album. The floor came alive as a mosh pit formed as well as people shoving trying to get as close as possible to the front of the stage. Doyle‘s music offers a range of heavy metal and horror punk which moshers loved as they kept doing what they love best. For most of the songs, singer Alex “Wolfman” Story would introduce each song by saying, “this next song is a love song. You can dance to it if you want”. It made for some great humor in between songs. The next track played was Beast Like Me from the new album and is one of the more popular tracks from it. Seeing as how Doyle has two albums out, it means he has plenty of material to pick from for his show. On his previous tours, Doyle would throw in some classic Misfits tunes for fans, but sadly this was not the case for this tour. Still, fans had a good time as Doyle stomped on stage and Story used the whole stage as his playground and even went as far as climbing the speakers and singing from there proving he’s one of the best frontmen around right now.  The band crushed through songs like Cemeterysexxx, Land of the Dead, Blood on the Axe, and DreamingDeadGirls. It was during DreamingDeadGirls that Story made motions with his hands as if he was spanking a dead girl and having intercourse with her. Because who doesn’t dream of a dead girl? Doyle is a fun and wild band to see live, especially if you’re a fan of the Misfits. Story ended the show by saying, “let’s finish this so we can go get tacos”. The band ended the night with Night of Sin, the final track of the newest album. Doyle has proven repeatedly that they deserve more recognition. Doyle finished up the song then left the stage as the audience cheered.

 

Armored Saint/Night Demon: The Troubadour – Los Angeles, Ca – 11/30/18

The Metal and Beer Festival kicked off at the famous Troubadour in Hollywood, California. The Friday edition of the festival was a special pre-fest show. The lineup had Persekutor, black metal band Uada, heavy metal locals Night Demon, and Los Angeles’ own heavy metal veterans, Armored Saint. The Metal and Beer Festival kicked off at the famous Troubadour in Hollywood, California. To no surprise, the show sold out ahead of time. The show was set to be an explosive opening night for the Metal and Beer Festival.

    Night Demon is a heavy metal band from Ventura, California. They released their second album Darkness Remains in 2017 and in August released a live album, Live Darkness. Night Demon came out and started with Welcome to the Night and made for a perfect entry song. Their sound is a nod to all the classic 80’s heavy metal bands. One of the highlights from their show is when they perform The Chalice and their mascot comes out on stage with a chalice. Night Demon has a great stage presence to keep you entertained and was only matched by the show’s ending when they played their self-titled song, Night Demon. They are still a young band, but they’ll surely carry the New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound with them for many years to come.
    Armored Saint made their return to the Troubadour since their last stop at the venue in 1983. Armored Saint recently wrapped up their tour where they’ve been performing their 1991 album Symbol of Salvation in its entirety. On this special occasion, Armored Saint would perform a “no hits” setlist and perform some oddities from their catalog. The Troubadour was packed to capacity and plenty of Armored Saint fans were seen in attendance of various ages. Armored Saint came out and were greeted with cheers from their devoted fans. The first song played was That Was Then, Way Back When. Fans cheered with joy as Armored Saint played their songs to perfection and all the members were happy to be in front of a sold out crowd in their hometown. The second song played was Pay Dirt from their 2000 album, Revelation. Even though the songs performed were obscure from their usual hits, longtime and hardcore fans were still seen with smiles and singing along to the songs to show that they didn’t know just the hits.  Singer John Bush spoke to the fans and thanked them for coming out and talked about the last time Armored Saint was last at the venue in 1983. The show went on as Armored Saint played more obscure hits like Book of Blood, An Exercise in Debauchery, Left Hook From Right Field, and Symbol of Salvation. Armored Saint kept up the energy to their performance in true heavy metal fashion with thunderous drums and shredding guitars. Their hometown of Los Angeles always welcomes  the band with open arms and makes Armored Saint feel right at home. With the show coming close to an end, Armored Saint played Win Hands Down and Nervous Man to finish off the set. A great start to the Metal and Beer Fest which also premiered Armored Saint‘s new beer, Symbol of Salvation.

Armored Saint

 

Night Demon

 

Uada

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Citizens Business Bank Arena – Ontario, California – 12/1/18

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is an arena juggernaut super group formed by four members of progressive metal/hard rock band, Savatage. The band only tours in winter and is so massive that they have a west coast version of the band and an east coast version of the band with two members from Savatage taking control of each version. Bassist Johnny Lee Middleton, drummer Jeff Plate, and guitarists Al Pitrelli and Chris Caffery. Two decades and hundreds of sold-out arena shows later, all four musicians still tour with the band each winter, albeit as members of different touring troupes. Pitrelli and Middleton are the longtime anchors of “TSO West,” while Plate and Caffery are stalwarts of “TSO East.” The band is known for their extensive use of lights, lasers, and pyro that can be seen from space by the International Space Station and makes for one of the most beautiful shows that anyone will ever see. TSO has never needed an opening act so their shows are always 2-3 hours long. This tour was celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their winter tour called, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve. The first of two shows at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California was packed with long lines at every entrance with fans of all ages ready for a spectacular night.

The lights went out and the packed venue cheered as the curtains came off and revealed the stage with the choir in place and guitarist Angus Clark front and center as TSO started the show with Night Enchanted. The metal orchestra music hit you and you were instantly transferred to a magical world as lasers and lights filled the arena. The first segment of the song ended and the next song Winter Palace started with keyboards and soon after, the huge lights towering the stage came down like platforms and revealed three other members to join the rest of the band. The Lost Christmas Eve was the third song performed and it was executed beautifully with more lasers for a beautiful sight. Now, it was time for the main segment of the show which was called The Ghosts of Christmas Eve where TSO‘s best Christmas songs are performed. Storyteller Phillip Brandon came out to introduce the story to the segment; a storyline about a runaway who takes refuge in an abandoned theatre on Christmas Eve, and experiences the musical performances as ghostly visions from the theatre’s past. The first two songs performed were the popular tracks O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night and Good King Joy which are featured on the band’s 1996 debut album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories. One of the highlights of the night was when TSO performed their most famous song Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 which is often featured in Christmas commercials. Two members of the band went to the back of the venue standing on platforms that went all around the venue while performing the song. Other songs from segment included Christmas Canon Rock, Music Box Blues, and Promises to Keep. During the performance of First Snow, the venue was filled with many beautiful lasers and to match the theme of the song. Bits of foam came down on the audience to mimic snow and it was quite funny to see people covered in bits of foam. The Ghost of Christmas Eve segment came to an end with Brandon once again coming out to announce the end of the segment, then left as TSO came out to perform This Christmas Day which featured Jeff Scott Soto on vocals who is best known as the singer on Yngwie Malmsteen’s first two albums. Pitrelli came out to greet the audience and thanked them for twenty years of winter touring and showed his condolences for all the recent tragic events that California had been having. He also asked the audience if they wanted more music. Naturally, the crowd cheered. The show went on with the second set starting off with Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness), A Mad Russian’s Christmas, Christmas Nights In Blue, Wizards In Winter, and Carmina Burana. Pitrelli came out once again to show his love for TSO founding member Paul O’Neill who passed away in 2017. He mentioned how the next song they were about to play was the first song that the two of them wrote together which was the song, Someday. It was a beautiful and emotional song. TSO went back to their Savatage roots by performing a Savatage cover of Chance, one of the band’s popular songs. A few more songs in and TSO played a reprised version of Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 which was the second half of the song. The show came to a grand finale with fireworks, lights, and pyro engulfing the whole stage. A truly amazing spectacle to see after over two hours of magical music. The whole band came out to bow to the audience and left Pitrelli alone on stage as he wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

 

Municipal Waste: The Observatory – Santa Ana, Ca – 11/26/18

Municipal Waste is a hardcore punk/crossover thrash metal band from Richmond, Virginia. In 2017,  they released their sixth studio album, Slime and Punishment. Municipal Waste has been actively touring for the album and just recently announced The Speed of the Wizard Tour with High On Fire, Toxic Holocaust, and Haunt. High On Fire had to drop out of the tour due to surgery for frontman Matt Pike. In their place was the punk rock supergroup, OFF! The final stop on the tour was The Observatory in Santa Ana, California. The venue was packed with metalheads ready to get this wild night started.

Municipal Waste was the headlining band of the night. Fans were impatiently waiting for the band as they were shouting, “Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up!”. The lights went out and the fans screamed as the members made their way to the stage. Frontman Tony Foresta introduced the band by saying, “We are Municipal Waste from Richmond, Virginia!”. Municipal Waste started their show with Bourbon Disciple from the newest album. Right away, the fans went wild with a mosh pit and soon after, crowd surfers started to make an appearance. The second song played was one of their popular and catchy songs, Sadistic Magician. The fans went wild for thrash metal and the crowd surfers and mosh pits kept coming. Stage divers were plentiful as well as crowd surfers would make their way to the stage. Security tried to slow the amount of stage divers, but Foresta had to let them know that it was ok to let them come up on stage. After all, it wouldn’t be a Municipal Waste show without stage divers and chaos. The speed metal punks never had a calm moment on their show as they unleashed fast riffs and played classics such as Beer Pressure, Unleash the Bastards, Terror Shark, and Poison the Preacher. Foresta noticed a fan dressed as a wizard and so brought him on stage to rock out with the band and eventually convinced him to stage dive and join in on the fun. The mosh pits only seemed to get faster and wilder as Municipal Waste performed more thrashy hits like Breathe Grease, Mind Eraser, The Thrashin’ of the Christ, and the deep cut Nailed Casket. The mosh pits got so violent during this time that fans were being dragged out looking like they were on the verge of passing out and were even bleeding. A few stage divers were unfortunate enough to not be caught landing and nastily landed on the floor and were also seen being carried out with injuries. The end was near for Municipal Waste as they performed their most famous track Born to Party which also drives fans the most wild as they sing along to the ending lyric, “Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up!”. Municipal Waste finished the show and left the stage. Fans weren’t ready to go home yet and stayed put. Municipal Waste came back out for some encores and started with Bangover. Foresta has no problem showing his hate and disgust for Donald Trump saying, “Donald Trump can kiss my ass!”. Municipal Waste played another new track, I Want to Kill the President. It was time for the grand finale of the show and what better way  for Municipal Waste to drive the fans wild once again  than to play The Art of Partying. The fans once again gave their blood, sweat, and tears to Municipal Waste for one last song. Municipal Waste always puts on one of the craziest shows you’ll ever see so if mosh pits and stage diving is something you love to do, then be sure to go see them for a truly epic night.

 

    

Behemoth: The Wiltern – Los Angeles, Ca – 11/24/18

Behemoth is a blackened death metal band from Poland. On October 5th, 2018, they released their eleventh studio album titled, I Loved You at Your Darkest. Behemoth was recently a part of Slayer‘s final tour and are now setting out on their own headlining tour. Behemoth announced the Ecclesia Diabolica 2018 Tour with support from Swedish melodic death metal lords At the Gates and American black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room. The final stop on the tour would the Wiltern in Los Angeles. This show was extra special in that it sold out ahead of time so it was bound to be an unforgettable night.

The stage was covered by a black curtain as the stage was prepared for the arrival of Behemoth. The lights went out as the sold out Wiltern erupted into a roar as the intro track to the new album Solve started the voices of the children’s choir filled the venue as the members of Behemoth made their way to the stage. The band started the playing the first track from the new album Wolves ov Siberia which is also the second single from the album and also has a music video. Behemoth came out wearing skull masks to add to their arsenal of stage props. Furious riffs and hard-hitting drums filled the venue and how glorious it was to feel Behemoth‘s music pounding through each and every body in attendance. The second song performed was Diamonos and the third song was Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer from their previous masterpiece album, The Satanist. For the next song, frontman Nergal came out wearing a pope hat designed for him specifically while they played the new album’s latest single, Bartzabel. The song Ov Fire and the Void was next and featured fog cannons that would shoot out fog in the form of upside down crosses. Behemoth went back to the new album and played the album’s first single, God = Dog. Behemoth next went back to their most popular album from 2004 Demigod to perform their most popular track, Conquer All. Fans raised their horns in their to the intro and fans happily moshed to this intense song. Behemoth kept up the brutality as they more evil tracks such as Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica, Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, and Slaves Shall Serve. To end the show, Behemoth played their usual closer of Chant for Eschaton 2000. The members would come up close to the audience and spit out blood which the fans gratefully accepted. Behemoth finished up their set and left the stage. The fans weren’t ready to go home yet and kept shouting, “Behemoth! Behemoth! Behemoth!”. It wasn’t long before Behemoth made their way back to the stage for some encores. The first encore was Lucifer, a slower track compared to the rest of the setlist, but still fit beautifully. To end the set, Behemoth played the final track from the new album, We Are the Next 1000 Years. Behemoth left the stage once again as the new album’s instrumental finale outro track Coagvla played over the speakers. As the drum section was coming in, all four members of Behemoth came out once again carrying marching band drums and played along to the outro track which was a sight to behold and made for the perfect ending to a truly spectacular and satanic show.

 

Machine Head: House of Blues – Anaheim, California – 11/23/18

San Francisco Bay Area metal giants Machine Head released their ninth studio album Catharsis on January 26th, 2018. Once again, Machine Head would set out on An Evening With Machine Head meaning there would be no opening band and it would be three hours of pure uninterrupted Machine Head. On September 28, frontman Robb Flynn made a shocking announcement that guitarist Phil Demmel would be leaving the band after fifteen years and drummer Dave McClain would also be leaving the band after twenty three years. The Freaks and Zeroes Tour would serve as the farewell tour for this era of Machine Head, but not for the band as a whole. The second to last stop on the tour was the House of Blues in Anaheim, California and fans were ecstatic to see Machine Head perform all the hits.

The venue was packed by 8:30pm as Diary of a Madman by Ozzy Osbourne played over the speakers signaling the arrival of Machine Head soon. The song ended and the lights went out and the fans screamed and chanted “Machine fucking Head! Machine fucking Head!”. The members of Machine Head made their way to the stage and started their set with Imperium. The crowd wasted no time in going wild with crowd surfing and moshing as Machine Head laid waste with fast and shredding riffs. The second song for the show was Volatile from the new album. The third song was Now We Die from the previous album, Bloodstone & Diamonds. Beautiful Mourning was the next song and is always a fan-favorite to sing along to and drives the fans wild in the mosh pit. After a few more songs, Flynn came out to talk to the audience. While talking, he would strum the acoustic intro to Darkness Within. His speech involved talking about how long it has been since Machine Head played in Anaheim. It had been eleven years due to being banned by Disney due to the band’s music and lyrics. Flynn had the audience raise their middle fingers and yell out, “Fuck Disney!”. He would also talk about politics and how politicians don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves and all they do is turn everyone against each other and how the only thing that matters is music bringing everyone together no matter what their beliefs are or what race. The rest of Machine Head would come out to play Darkness Within which is a beautiful piece heard live. Machine Head never had a dull moment in their performance and kept the fans raging as they performed blistering tracks like Ten Ton Hammer, Locust, an Iron Maiden cover of Hallowed Be Thy Name, and Bulldozer. Machine Head was about to start Killers & Kings, but not before Flynn ordered the pit to split in half for a wall of death and circle pit as the band started the song. The show seemed to come to an end as Machine Head played one of their popular songs from their Burn My Eyes debut album, Davidian. The song has their famous lyric of “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast!” and always has the crowd singing along. Machine Head the stage to a dark and packed venue. The crowd wasn’t ready to go home yet and kept chanting, “Machine fucking Head! Machine fucking Head!”. After a brief break, Machine Head came back out for some encores. The first two encores were Descend the Shades of Night and Now I Lay Thee Down. Flynn asked the audience if it was ok  if they messed around for a bit. The crowd cheered and so Machine Head treated the crowd with medley covers of Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (Metallica), You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC), Night Train (Guns N’ Roses), and Would? (Alice In Chains). Back to speeding things up, Machine Head played one of their best and fastest tracks Aesthetics of Hate which made the circle pits go even faster and crowd surfers were plentiful. More encores included Game Over and Old. After three hours and 15 minutes, it was time for the grand finale of the show which was Machine Head‘s most popular track, Halo. Fans sang along and moshed to whatever energy they had left which seemed to be never ending. Machine Head wrapped up their show which was definitely emotional given that it was the second to last show for Demmel and McClain. A new era for Machine Head was on the horizon and the fans will have to see what’s next for the band.

 

Metalachi: House of Blues – Anaheim, Ca 11/10/18

Metalachi is perhaps one of the most interesting and fun bands you will ever see live. As their name suggests, their music is composed of covers of popular rock and metal songs using traditional mariachi instruments. At first it sounds a little odd, but a quick YouTube search and you’ll quickly be blown away by what you see and hear. They make mariachi instruments work perfectly for the covers that they do. Their stage outfits are taken directly out of the books from other rock/metal acts like Rob Zombie, KISS, and Gwar. The members are made up of Vega De La Rockha (vocals), Paco Halen (guitar), El Cucuy (trumpet), Kyla Vera (violin), and Kiko Cane (guitarron/bass). Metalachi just released their third album Tres and to celebrate the occasion, they performed a special show at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California. To make the  show even better, it sold out! Anaheim was not ready for the madness that is Metalachi as the venue was packed by the time Metalachi came on stage.

The first thing you’ll notice is how the mic stands are covered by the bras of women from previous shows.  Metalachi‘s manager Warren Moscow came out to greet the sold out audience and asked if they were ready to party with Metalachi. The crowd cheered, of course. He said that if any audience member is not ready to party, to do him a favor and walk their ass out of the venue. He also made note that alcohol is your friend and the more you drink, “the more this shit will make sense”. With that, he introduced Metalachi as they came on stage and started with their traditional opening song, a rendition of the classic Mexican song Guadalajara, but with the lyrics and title changed to Metalachi. The first cover song was The Final Countdown (Europe). It doesn’t take long before you know the comedic stage presence that Metalachi delivers to their stage. Their next covers included We’re Not Gonna Take It (Twisted Sister), Santeria (Sublime), and Sweet Child O’Mine (Guns N’ Roses). In between songs, Metalachi would put on a comedic show which involves the band members taunting each other and telling stories. One such act is when Vega claims that the front area of the audience is the “splash zone” and being exposed to Metalachi for too long would cause the women  present to become…pregnant. Continuing the show, Metalachi played Hooker With a Penis (Tool), Raining Blood (Slayer), and Talk Dirty to Me (Poison). One of the specially performed songs was Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, to which they recently released a music video for featuring comedian Felipe Esparza. Several more covers later and the show seemed to come to an end with Thunderstruck (AC/DC). Metalachi left the stage, but the crowd didn’t seem ready to leave. Warren Moscow came out once again thanking the audience for a sold out show and asked the audience if they wanted more. The crowd cheered, but Moscow wasn’t pleased with the response claiming they didn’t travel 27 miles from their previous show for a weak response. Asking again, the crowd cheered even louder which was convincing enough for Metalachi to come back out for some encores. The encores included Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne) and a medley of Metallica covers of Master of Puppets and Enter Sandman. At the end of the medley, Metalachi dropped red balloons all over the venue with fans kicking them everywhere. For the grand finale, Metalachi played Canción del Mariachi (Mariachi’s Song) as originally heard in the movie, Desperado. Metalachi stood center stage and bowed before their audience once again thanking them for an unforgettable night. Metalachi is always a guaranteed fun show and they’re always touring. So if you’re looking to have a good drunken time and let loose from life itself, going to a Metalachi party is the way to go.

 

Paradise Lost and Sólstafir: The Glass House – Pomona, Ca – 10/20/18

Sólstafir is a metal band from Iceland. The band’s name is the Icelandic word for sun beams (crepuscular rays). In 2017, they released their sixth album, Berdreyminn. The band’s lyrics are almost all in their native tongue of Icelandic with some songs in English. The lights went out and fans cheered as the quartet made their way to the stage and started the show with Köld (cold). Sólstafir‘s music is very calm and soothing. Perfect for those quiet days, nights, and long drives home or just to relax when you don’t want the usual loud noise that is metal. The singing itself is beautiful. Whether it’s the vocals from frontman Aðalbjörn Tryggvason or the high-pitch backing vocals of bassist Ragnar Zolberg. Sólstafir continued the beautiful atmosphere of their show as they played a few more tracks like Ótta (Dead of Night), the absolutely beautiful track Fjara (Beach), and Bláfjall (Black Mountain). The final track for their performance was Goddess of the Ages clocking in at 12 minutes and 41 seconds. A perfect ending for their performance. Sólstafir bid farewell to their audience and made way for the headlining band of the night.

Paradise Lost is a gothic/doom metal band from England. In 2017, they released their fifteenth studio album, Medusa.  This year is a special occasion for the band because they celebrate their 30th anniversary. It was a relief to see them back in the US because the last time they came was in 2012. The setlist would be a special set containing a selection of their best songs. Paradise Lost came out and started the show with The Enemy from their 2007 album, In Requiem. In classic gothic/doom metal style, their music isn’t meant to be fast or aggressive. Instead, you submerge yourself in the music and the lyrics. The next song played was Pity of Sadness followed by One Second. Paradise Lost has a very calm stage presence and would hardly move on stage. Paradise Lost would play many more classics and leave their audience in awe as they played songs such as Enchantment, Erased, Medusa, and Beneath Broken EarthParadise Lost finished their set and left the stage. Fans stayed behind and  chanted for the band to come back out. It wasn’t long before Paradise Lost came back out for some encores. The first two encores were No Hope in Sight followed by The Longest Winter. To end the show, Paradise Lost brought out Aðalbjörn Tryggvason from Sólstafir for a duet for the performance of Say Just words. After the song ended, Paradise Lost left the stage once again to a very happy audience. Hopefully it’s not another six years before their return.

 

Sólstafir

 

Paradise Lost

Legions of Evil: 5 Star Bar – Los Angeles, Ca – 10/20/18

An evening of blasphemy takes its toll at the center of downtown as the Elegy Ensemble, Church of the 8th day and Space Land productions brings us a night of Heavy Metal Mayhem. Pulling off a lineup of 9 classic acts with locals such as Nightmare, Casket Crusher, Evilization, Sector, Dread, Dismantle, and Scrapmetal. At the very top of the lists were heavy the heavy tyrants in Ruthless and headlining this monster is German legends Iron Angel! With the audience in low attendance throughout some parts the night I was able to shoot without issue up until the last band where the front side of the stage was bombarded with crazed fans. With one band opting out and a few members not showing up in another, what you do like of how this productions sets up there shows is that they keep everything on schedule even with situations such as this.

I’ll do my take on the last 3 bands even though I love every performance that’s listed on this bill and always encourage to check out the up incoming underground for their releases.

Scrapmetal takes the stage and I do what I can to make it to their set time whenever they grace us with their presence. These veterans are always giving out a quality sound that has your adrenaline pumping and asking for more. With rude and crude types of lyrics and pounding fast crunchy tones there’s no reason to sit back and relax every time they hit the stage!

Ruthless has been on my bucket list of bands to check out for the longest now and totally stoked that I get to hear and see them in the flesh. What I typically like about smaller dive bar kinda of venues is the intimacy you get for being so close to bands. Sure festivals are great for atmosphere but where you’re only inches to legends such as these it’s a whole other ballpark. I’d say my only conflict with this place is having a small stage, especially for a 5 piece. With no wiggle room any big move is definitely a risk. Still, the band delivers and carries on to a crowded room full of raging fans. The best songs of the night in my opinion were definitely hits such as “Gates of Hell”, “Metal Without Mercy”, and “Discipline of Steel”. Currently the band is in motion to bring out new material so hopefully it shines just as their old gold has been portrayed.

Setlist:

1) Cryptic Ruins
2) Gates of Hell
3) Atrocities
4) In Blood
5) Evil Within
6) Metal Without Mercy
7) Death March
8) Skulls
9) Defender
10) Discipline of Steel

Finally as the evening had unfolded Iron Angel has in seconds filled up the stage floor for all hell to break loose. It’s quite a spectacle to see such a heavy band like these legends to tear up a room and bring only the best kind of chaos into action. With related band structures and sounds similar (but just as unique) as Agent Steel, Exciter, and Hirax the only mode these guys play is heavy speed. Playing such hits like “Black Mass”, “Hellbound”, and “The Metallian”. The only thing you can see from the back is hair flying, fists pounding and blazing energy from its adoring crowd. The ambiance is definitely unsettling and grungy which has nothing to do with how grand the performance plays out, though having a band banner wouldn’t hurt. However, this doesn’t exclude the fact on how Iron Angel delivers on hell of a set and for that I’m grateful to witness such big influences in a smaller scale location. The band is currently dominating other countries across the glob such as Columbia, Brazil and Argentina. So if you’re hailing in any of these countries I’d suggest not sleeping on any of their upcoming dates and witness the madness that is Iron Angel.

Setlist:

1) Writings on the Wall
2) Sinner 666
3) Ministry In Metal
4) Hunter in Chains
5) Heavy Metal Soldiers
6) Waiting for a Miracle
7) Blood and Leather
8) Black Mass
9) Son of a Bitch
10) Hellbound
11) Legions of Metal
12) Metalstorm
13) The Metallion
14) Fight for your life
15) Stronger than Steel
Encore:
16) Carnivore Flashmob
17) Rush of Power

Photos and review by Hugo Juarez

 

Iron Angel

 

Ruthless

 

Scrap Metal

Interview with Robert Berry

Robert Berry is an American rock musician and multi-instrumentalist most famous for bands such as Hush, Sammy Hagar, The Greg Kihn Band, and 3 with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. In August, Robert Berry released the album The Rules Have Changed which also involved Keith Emerson. The album came to a halt when Emerson took his own life in early 2016. After taking some time off t grieve, Berry came back with his band 3, but rebooted it as 3.2 and released The Rules Have Changed which has the last work of Emerson before his passing. We had a chat with Berry about the album and life in general. Check out our interview:

Concert Confessions: You just released your new album The Rules Have Changed. How do you feel about completing the album and releasing it despite the passing of Keith Emerson?
Robert Berry: Hey Misael. Great to meet you and thank you for the questions. It was a dream come true for me. I hoped for 27 years that the opportunity to work with Keith again on a follow up to our first 3 album would come along. The time we spent speaking about our past, what we had learned over the past 27 years, and how to bring the sound we had developed back in ’87 into 2016 and beyond was an incredible experience for me. I knew that I had one more prog album in me. I also felt that Keith had not done much since the first 3 album except maybe the ELP Black Moon album that really showed what he was capable of and how he could still create at a high level. We were heading down that path and getting great results. Then he was gone. To say it shook my whole world would be an understatement. I had lost my most famous friend, the musical partner that I had a top 10 record with (and by the way Keith’s last charting record) and just a really sweet guy and person that I cherished and highly respected. I couldn’t go on at that point. I put it aside. A few weeks after his death I noticed that the fans that were posting on Facebook and some private emails I was getting, that people were feeling like they lost a friend. Not just the world’s greatest keyboard player and member of their favorite band ELP. They felt they knew him, they loved him, and they missed him. Even though many didn’t really know him personally. That touched me and I felt I needed to write a song that bonded together all of us. Friends and fans. The common thread of sadness I wanted to turn into the common bond of love for the man. So I wrote the song Our Bond and put it out on YouTube with many photos of Keith in a specially made video. The response was truly wonderful. People felt my love for Keith and they expressed that the song felt like it included their sentiments too. That was exactly what I wanted to accomplish. After about six months I had an idea to have Keith’s song Aaron possibly finish the album with me. He was excited but once he heard the song I sent him he said it was too hard for him. His comment that he didn’t play like his dad was not taken lightly. Of course, none of us play like his dad. He was the best. But, what that did for me is get the flame rekindled and I began to work on it again. It took me a year of struggling with the feelings, the writing, the performing of such difficult music to get it done. At the point I felt I was done I really didn’t know what I had. I was so close to it that I couldn’t tell if it was good or bad.

CC: What was the easiest part about making the album? What about the hardest?
RB: The easiest part was while Keith was still alive. We were having such a good time speaking on the phone and writing parts that way. Keith would play something like only he can come up with and I would try to mimic it on my end in the studio. I’d record those parts onto my protools system but only after some serious discussions and direction from Keith.
RB: The most difficult part was getting those damn keyboard fingerings right so I could actually play some of the keyboard parts after he was gone. To create the part seems to pour out of me. I felt Keith with me as I was working in some way. I would always say to myself “what would Keith do here”? But then once I felt I had it right and maybe even played a rough idea I would have to go back and dedicate some hours to really playing it right and adding the more complex voicings.

CC: If Keith Emerson were to listen to the album, what do you think he would think of the final product?
RB: That is an interesting question. Many people that I have been interviewed by have said things like “Keith would be proud of this album”. Or “this effort”. I always feel a little uncomfortable with that and I’m not sure why. I mean, it’s a compliment but on the other hand it is so important to me that I honor my time with Keith and I honor his genius with my best effort. I am so pleased with the response, but I don’t take it for granted that I have done exactly the album it would have been if Keith would have finished it with me. I know that it would have developed in some way that would have been unique to our time in the studio whatever that may have been. But my hope is that I have honored him by doing my best work and completing his final work.  

CC: Are there currently any plans for a tour in support for the album?
RB: Yes there is. The plan for that is coming together now. I want to play 300 to 500 seat venues. No bigger. I want to play my history in prog rock starting with GTR, playing songs from Pilgrimage, music from my time with Ambrosia, and the new 3.2 album. I also have a long history arranging some well known tribute albums for the Magna Carta label. I want to do a few of those songs like Roundabout and Minstrel in the Gallery. Steve Howe actually played on Roundabout with me and sent me a letter on how much he liked my version.I want to call the tour “30 years of prog”.  I  also want to meet everybody, I want to tell some stories, and I want to shake their hand and thank them for supporting me all these years. We hope to be out by March or April 2019.

CC: What’s your personal favorite song on The Rules Have Changed and why?
RB: That is a difficult question. There are things that I like on all of them. Standout parts for me are the intro of One by One. Dual pianos. It’s really a grand introduction to the whole album. I still enjoy the morphing of past Emerson songs in the arrangement of Our Bond. That was a puzzle that just seemed to fall in place. I could go on and on. I like to say that I spent a year in the dark fulfilling the dream and it was difficult, fun, emotional, and most of all, rewarding. If you haven”t read the 20 page booklet you can read about the journey and how it took shape. Hard to pick my favorite song though. 

CC: What is one of your most memorable moments with Keith Emerson?
RB: There will never be anything that can replace actually playing on stage with him. Mainly I played bass and sang in the band but I did have a keyboard setup and pride myself as being (probably) the only guy that ever played keyboards on stage with Keith Emerson, He didn’t like that much LOL But a few of our songs needed that extra boost from the keyboards. Trust me, there are not many situations where Keith couldn’t cover what it would take two keyboard players to play. He was a monster player for sure. 

CC: What was your inspiration (or inspirations) for writing The Rules Have Changed?
RB: The song The Rules Have Changed was one of the very last songs written for the album. A good friend that was also a very good keyboard player and song writer died in the same way that Keith had only a few months after Keith. It was very hard for me to take. This guy, Trent Gardner, was the creator of the prog/metal band Magellan. He was solid as a rock, albums full of ideas, and to me, he always seemed to be moving forward with great momentum. After he was gone it just struck me that it seemed that so many things in the world are very different from what they were not that long ago. Some better, some worse, but most – different.  The Rules Have Changed was written about my utter disbelief that I didn’t see any of this coming. No signs, no hints, no chance to change things. The rules had definitely changed around me.

CC: If any, how is The Rules Have Changed different from the previous album, To the Power of Three?
RB: First off that is a great question. It was a deliberate effort to put forth what we had learned from the first album, our tour, and the 27 years that had passed. On the first album I wrote half of the songs and Keith arranged them. The other half was written by Keith and the band took them and made them into lyrical pieces and powerful arrangements. It started with songs that might not have been completely right for 3 but were reworked to fit. The 3.2 album began with what I call the meat of the music. The musical bits like intros, links to verses, choruses. Maybe a cool riff hear and there and an instrumental section. Then the “song” part, the lyric and melody sections were written within this cool surrounding music. I felt that gave us more continuity, more ‘sticking’ to the original plan we had made, and more chances to hone in what I call our AOR meets prog style. It was a very open and creative way to follow through. The tricky part was getting the sections to meet up and flow from part to part.  

CC: When you’re not working with music, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
RB: I like to say I was sentenced to a life of music. My mom sang in my dad’s band so I was in a band and on stage before I came out. Music and everything related to music has been my whole life. I built a guitar in 8th grade, I built speaker cabinets and a bass drum in high school, I started working in a professional recording studio when I was 18. Then I went on to major in music at San Jose State University. Music, music, music. I produce for local and national clients at my studio Soundtek Studios 5 days a week and I love every minute of it. My wife Rebecca makes sure I go to Cabo once or twice a year and get away from it all. I do enjoy collecting guitars but I guess you can’t really say that’s not music. But I do love cars. I have a very fast Tesla Roadster that gets me around fairly quick and I do enjoy that. I’d have a bunch of cars if I won the lottery.

CC: Who are some of your favorite bands/artists to listen to?
RB: I have an interesting exposure to many kinds of music. Of course my roots are in the more English rock and prog rock. Zepplin, Yes, ELP. But everyday at my studio a singer/songwriter anywhere from 16 years old to 60 years old comes in and I do their music track for them. I have a package deal where they work one on one with me and whatever they don’t play, I play. I also work on their arrangements, their lyrics, and the song structure in general. I always ask “who are you going to knock off the charts? Let’s listen to that”. Then I ask them to play me one song that influences their style. I get 20 year old guys playing me Deep Purple, 40 year old pop singers playing me Pink, Fall out Boy, Michael Jackson, Van Halen, Back Street Boys lol. You name it, everyday I hear something new and also learn something new from these unknown artists. It is truly a great life experience to work with people on their most important creations. Then of course after an 8 or 9 hour day – no radio in the car, no headphones blasting away in my head. I love the work I get to do and of course I love the fact that I still have plenty of musical ideas and get to use them everyday. From co-writing and producing last years Greg Kihn album Rekihndled, to doing the prerecorded Van Halen keyboard tracks for Sammy Hagar’s live show for his band The Circle, my days are filled with music.
I appreciate your questions and hope that you have listened closely to The Rules Have Changed and enjoyed what you heard. It was definitely a labor of love and one of the most incredible experiences in my life. I’m still not really sure how it all came together the way it did. Somebody was definitely watching and guiding me.
Cheers,
Robert

Gwar: The Belasco – Los Angeles, Ca – 10/18/18

Scumdogs of the Universe Gwar returned to earth to lay waste on the human filth. In 2017, they released their fourteenth album The Blood of Gods. The first thing you’ll notice about Gwar‘s infamous live performances are their grotesque costumes which makes them look like interplanetary warriors and science-fiction themed mythology. Their stage shows are always filled with satire, comedy, political rants, sexuality, and over-the-top violence. The most notable feature is how Gwar will spray their audience with vasts amount of fake blood, urine, semen, and other liquids of unknown origin leaving their audience drenched in different colors by the time the show ends. The Belasco theater in Los Angeles was the next stop in Gwar‘s intergalactic battle with Earth.

The lights dimmed down as two army soldiers came out to scope out the area where alien life forms had been seen. The members of Gwar started to make their way to the stage and soon found themselves in sword battles with the soldiers as Gwar started the show with War on Gwar. After some fighting, green-colored band member Bonesnapper brought the soldiers to their needs as they begged for mercy. Bonesnapper grabbed his trusty axe and with a swift strike, decapitated the soldiers thus exposing the neck and streams of blood were shot out from the neck and onto the unsuspecting audience. The show got a wild turn right away as fans went wild and moshed while being drenched in blood. During the performance of I’ll Be Your Monster, Bonesnapper brought out two puppets that looked like kids and rubbed them all over vocalist Blöthar the Berserker’s genitals which resemble cow utters. After a quick rub, Blöthar grabbed one of his penises, pointed it at the audience, and let loose blood in an interesting, but hilarious antic. A funny-looking fast food character known as Dickie Duncan came on stage to talk about feeding fast food to kids just as Gwar started playing the song Death to Dickie Duncan. Gwar had enough of Dickie Duncan and Bonesnapper grabbed his axe and split him in two which resulted in his organs being exposed and ended up spraying blood all over the audience. Gwar had something special planned for almost every song performed. When Crushed By the Cross was performed, a priest came out to try and cleanse Gwar of their sins. Gwar quickly silenced him by bashing him over the head with an axe. The priest bled into the audience while frantically running around on stage. Gwar flipped him upside down, took off his pants, and exposed his butthole. Bassist Beefcake the Mighty grabbed the cross belonging to the priest and jabbed it repeatedly into the priest’s butthole which resulted in blood being squirted into the audience. Gwar has never been afraid to show their political views. For the performance of El Presidente, a man that’s supposed to be Trump came out to give one of his less-inspiring speeches about illegal aliens. Blöthar reminded Trump that Gwar are illegal aliens and so the band members engaged in battle with trump before tearing off his suit and ripping his chest open and started to send more blood flying out. Gwar continued their debauchery and slaying of people as they performed monstrous tunes like Viking Death Machine, Saddam a Go-Go, Maggots, and The Sordid Soliloquy of Sawborg Destructo. Nearing the end of the show, a sea of red could be seen from all the fans that had willingly let themselves be drenched in blood and juice. Gwar announced that they were tired of the venue and said their goodbye by performing Fuck This Place. The chorus got the audience raising their middle fingers in the air while shouting, “Fuck This Place!”. Gwar finished the song then took their leave. Fans stayed around and chanted for the band to come back out. Gwar listened to their human filth fans continued the show with Phantom Limb. For the grand finale, Gwar announced that they were sick of the people in the venue so they played the fan-favorite Sick of You. More blood and madness was unleashed onto the fans as they continued to mosh and shove their way to the front to get as wet as possible. Gwar finished their show and left the stage as they prepared for their next voyage to the next unfortunate city. As for the fans? Faces, arms, and shirts were blood-soaked red, yet smiles were seen everywhere. Make America Gwar Again!

 

Carach Angren: 1720 – Los Angeles, CA – 10/12/18

Carach Angren is a symphonic black metal band from the Netherlands. In 2017, they released their fifth studio album Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten. The name means “Iron Jaws” in the Elvish language of Sindarin, and is the name of a fortified pass into North-Western Mordor in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Since their first USA tour in 2014, Carach Angren has always been a support act. This year, they embarked on their first headlining tour with Mors Principium Est and Wolfheart as support for the Pitch Black Horror Tour. The mood was set as Los Angeles was drenched by rain and even lightning and thunder in the sky made an appearance to further set the mood. By the time Carach Angren came on stage, the 1720 warehouse was nicely packed as black metal fanatics and metalheads in general were excited for a full set from the Dutch horror masters.

 

The lights went out and the crowd cheered as drummer Ivo “Namtar” Wijers came out on stage to sit on his throne. The keyboard on stage eerily moved by itself as to be possessed before keyboardist Clemens “Ardek” Wijers took his place on the keyboards. Touring guitarist Bastiaan “The Butcher” Boh was next. Singer Dennis “Seregor” Droomers was last to come out. Carach Angren started the show with the first track from the new album, Charlie. Right away, you can feel the horror that the music bestows upon you as Carach Angren tell their tales of terror in a haunting fashion. The third song performed was one of their most popular tracks, When Crows Tick on Windows. Seregor does an amazing job at not only singing the songs, but playing out the lyrics as if watching the song come to life. The band as a whole had amazing stage presence as they would all make grotesque faces to match the music and would regularly interact with the audience. Carach Angren played songs from all their albums which was nice to hear some classics as well as some performed for the first time. Some of those songs included The Carriage Wheel MurderIn de Naam Van de Duivel (Dutch for “In the Name of the Devil”), Sir John, and The Sighting is a Portent of Doom. One of the highlights of the show was the beginning of the song Blood Queen. Seregor went over to the mannequin with the words “Jane Doe” cut into her flesh, took a knife out, and proceeded to slice her throat with blood coming out of the wound. Seregor then gorged himself on the blood from the neck of Jane Doe down to her vagina. It made Blood Queen that much more interesting to see performed live. Another highlight of the show was when Carach Angren finally performed the fan-favorite The Funerary Dirge of a Violinist. It is one of the band’s most beautiful songs. Aside from the catchy song, it contains a beautiful piano/keyboard solo by Ardek that is worth rewinding just to listen to it over and over again. Carach Angren finished the show and left the stage. The fans stayed and cheered for Carach Angren to come back out. Not too long later, the band came back out to perform another favorite, Bitte Tötet Mich (German for “Please Kill Me”). The finale for the show was the band’s usual ending song of Bloodstain on the Captain’s Log. Seeing Carach Angren live is an experience that should be seen by metalheads. Not only are they an experience, but they are Pitch Black Horror goodness.

 

Tribulation: The Lodge Room – Los Angeles, Ca – 10/2/18

Tribulation is a metal band from Sweden. Their sound has varied depending on the album you’re listening to.  The first two albums are more traditional death metal while their later two albums change it up to black metal and gothic rock while still maintaining a death metal sound. Tribulation released their fourth album Down Below on January 28, 2018 to positive reviews from both critics and fans alike. Tribulation finally announced a USA tour in support of their new album and fans were ecstatic to have them return since they were last here in 2016. The last time they were here, Tribulation sold out the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles. It was only fitting that they now play a larger venue. This time, Tribulation lured their fans to the Lodge Room in Highland Park. Even on a Tuesday night, fans packed the venue in anticipation for this haunting show.

As Tribulation prepared to start the show, the stage was covered with fog from fog machines giving the stage and eerie feeling as if walking through a cemetery on a foggy night. The lights went out and fans cheered as the members of Tribulation made their way to the stage in full makeup and attire looking like corpses that had risen from their graves. The first song of choice was Lady Death from the new album. The song has a vibe that makes you wanna dance a dance of death, yet still maintained a classic death metal sound. The vocals from Johannes Andersson are a thing of haunting beauty. The second song performed was Melancholia from their previous album, The Children of the Night. One of the highlights of the band’s performance is watching guitarist Jonathan Hultén dance and prance around on stage looking like an undead ballerina. He’s always a sight to behold never missing a note while mesmerizing the audience. Other songs from the band’s macabre setlist included The Lament, Cries From the Underworld, and The World. In the middle of the show, guitarists Hultén and Adam Zaars took turns performing guitar solos to wow the audience and were often covered with fog for a more grim appearance. Nearing the end of the show, Tribulation kept to the new album and performed the gloomy and catchy Nightbound. The show had come to an end and Tribulation left the stage. The fans weren’t ready to go home just yet and chanted the band’s name. Tribulation listened and came back out for some encores. The first encore was Strange Gateways Beckon. Tribulation kept the energy up and never had a dull moment in their performance. It was time for the show to come to an end and to end it, Tribulation played Lacrimosa. The fans let out whatever remaining energy they had left. Tribulation wrapped up their show, bowed to the fans, then left the stage for the final time. Tribulation is a band enjoyed by both death metal and black metal fans and hopefully they come back soon for another living dead performance.

 

Angra: Whisky A Go Go – Hollywood, Ca – 10/1/18

Angra is a power metal band from Brazil. With nine albums out and 25 years of existing, Angra announced their first ever full-on North American headlining tour. Throughout their career, Angra has had hiatuses and multiple lineup changes. One recently was when guitarist Kiko Loureiro joined thrash metal legends, Megadeth. Aside from this tour, Angra has only played selected shows here in the US and now fans can finally enjoy one of power metal’s most legendary acts. On February 16, 2018, Angra released their ninth studio album, Ømni (Latin for “Everything”). One of the stops on the tour was the world-famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California.

Angra came out and started the show with Newborn Me and were greeted with cheers from their Hollywood fans. Angra quickly proved that they are one of the best power metal bands in the world as both guitarists shred away with speed and precision giving power metal it’s classic Helloween/Iron Maiden sound. On vocals currently is none other than Italian singer Fabio Lione who is most famously known for being the singer for Italian power metal band Rhapsody of Fire for 21 years. The second song performed was a song from the new album, Travelers of Time. For the third song, Angra went back to their classic albums and played one of the most popular songs Angels and Demons from their 2004 album, Temple of Shadows. Fans cheered for this classic and happily sang along to the song’s catchy chorus. Angra played a solid mix of classic and new material which included Black Widow’s Web, Nothing to Say, Upper Levels and Spread Your Fire. One of the tracks performed was The Bottom of My Soul and it features guitarist Rafael Bittencourt on vocals as well as guitars. Bittencourt is the only sole original member of the band as well as one of the founding members. The final song of the night was Magic Mirror and soon after, Angra left the stage. Fans weren’t ready to go home just yet even though it was 12:30am on a Monday night. Bittencourt came back out to the stage for a speech and thanked the audience for coming out as well as talk about how proud he is of the band and thanked all the previous band members for all of their work. The rest of Angra would come out to perform two encores. The first encore was Rebirth from their 2001 album of the same name. To end the night, Angra performed Nova Era from the same album. Fans cheered as Angra wrapped up their show and lots of smiles could be seen as they were happy to finally see them. Hopefully it’s not another long wait before Angra returns to the states.

 

Deep Purple/Judas Priest: FivePoint Amphitheatre – Irvine, Ca – 9/27/18

When two of the biggest rock and metal icons join forces for a tour, you know you’re in for one of the biggest and best experiences of your life. Rock icons and heavy metal pioneers Deep Purple and heavy metal gods Judas Priest joined forces for one of the biggest tours of the year. Deep Purple is still on tour for their farewell tour that they’re calling The Long Goodbye Tour. Judas Priest is currently on tour in support of their eighteenth studio album Firepower which was released on March 9, 2018. The FivePoint Amphitheater in Irvine, California was the venue of choice which was perfect for this tour. Starting up the show was Judas Priest and as always, they put on one of the best performances from any metal bands. The venue was super packed by the time the metal gods came on stage.

Judas Priest came out and started the show with the first track from the new album, Firepower. With a classic heavy metal sound, Judas Priest exploded onto the stage and made their presence known as one of the best metal bands of all time.  Metal God Rob Halford still sings like a god and seems to only get better with age. Guitarist Richie Faulkner has been the replacement for longtime guitarist K.K. Downing since he left the band in 2011. Longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton was forced to retire from touring in February 2018 due to a severe case of Parkinson’s Disease. In Tipton’s place is guitarist/record producer Andy Sneap. Regardless of band members, Judas Priest still sounds great. The next song performed was the classic Delivering the Goods from their 1978 album, Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather. The third song performed was another classic Sinner from their third album, Sin After Sin. With a new album out, Judas Priest of course had to play some new tunes. Those new songs were Lightning Strike, No Surrender and Rising From Ruins. With the new songs out of the way, Judas Priest focused on their classic material. The familiar sound of guitar synthesizers blared over the speakers as fans cheered knowing what was coming. The song Turbo Lover started which is one of their most popular songs. With a super catchy chorus, Halford put the mic out to the crowd so they could sing the chorus. You Got Another Thing Comin’ is without a doubt one of the most popular metal songs of all time so when Judas Priest started to play it, the whole venue cheered and sang along. Halford went to the back of the venue and seemed to disappear. The familiar sound of motorcycle engines revving filled the venue and fans once again cheered as they knew what song was next. Halford came back out riding his motorcycle as the rest of the band started playing Hell Bent For Leather. The band minus drummer Scott Travis left the stage leaving him to do a drum solo. After he finished, he asked the audience what they wanted to hear. The crowd yelled, “Painkiller!”. He gladly obliged and started the drum solo to Painkiller as the rest of the band came out to join in and play one of their best songs with fast guitars, pulverizing drums and Halford’s godly high-pitch yells. The show seemed to come to an end as the band left the stage. After a little while, the intro of The Hellion started as the band came back out and started the first encore which was Electric Eye. As soon as the song ended, Judas Priest jumped into playing one of the greatest metal songs of all time, Breaking the Law. Most, if not all metalheads know this song and is usually one of the first Judas Priest songs that fans hear when first introduced to them. Halford would allow fans to sing the chorus of, “Breaking the Law! Breaking the Law!”. It was time for Judas Priest to finish up their performance and to end the night, they performed Living After Midnight. Once Again, Halford let the audience sing the chorus which the audience sang perfectly. Judas Priest finished their performance, bowed to the audience, and left the stage for the headlining band of the night.

 

When people talk about some of the most iconic and influential rock bands, Deep Purple is often one of the first bands brought up. With all the bands they have influenced, Deep Purple has earned their reputation as one of the all time great bands that everyone needs to listen to. The lights went out once again as the members of Deep Purple came out and started with one of their most popular songs, Highway Star. Deep Purple still has the energy to put on an entertaining show and still prove why they’re one of the greatest bands of all time. The second song performed was Pictures of Home followed by Bloodsucker. Deep Purple had an impressive stage setup with a back screen showing old photos of the band from throughout their career as well as an impressive light setup that beautifully illuminated the stage. Deep Purple went on to play many of their classic such as Strange Kind of Woman, Lazy and Knocking at Your Back Door. Deep Purple took a quick break while keyboardist Don Airey performed a nice keyboard solo to wow the audience. Deep Purple would come back out to perform another one of their popular hits, Perfect Strangers. Iconic frontman Ian Gillan spoke to the audience about the history of the band and his involvement and different experiences over the years. To introduce the next song, Gillan said it was time go…Space Truckin’. People were seen dancing and singing along to this Deep Purple classic. Now at the end of the show, Deep Purple played their most famous song and one of the best-known songs of all time, Smoke on the Water. This song is one of the holy grail of rock music. It has the most familiar guitar riffs that unmistakable as soon as you hear it and is a riff that surely most guitar players learn to play. During the song, the back screen would show photos of the Montreux Casino in Switzerland that burned down in 1971 and inspired the title of the song. Deep Purple finished the song and left the stage. Fans weren’t ready to go just yet and stayed a while longer. Eventually, Gillan came out once again and thanked the audience for coming out and for all the support over the years. For the encore, Deep Purple played their popular Joe South cover of Hush. Once again, the fans danced and sang along for the show’s grans finale. Deep Purple bowed to the audience and left the stage once again. Judas Priest and Deep Purple are two legendary acts whose music will for sure stand the test of time and will continue to influence many future bands even after they’ve both retired. Rock and metal will never die.

 

Judas Priest

 

Deep Purple

Wintersun: 9/23/18

Wintersun is a melodic death metal band from Finland. In 2017 they released their third album, The Forest Seasons. This was the first album since the release of their second album Time 1 in 2012. The album consists of only four songs, one per season. Though only four songs, the songs themselves are lengthy at 12-15 minutes each and take you on a journey through each season. After five long years, Wintersun made their return to the USA. One of the stops on the tour was the beautiful Mayan Theater in Los Angeles, California. Even before doors opened, fans were lined up outside waiting to see one of Finland’s  finest bands.

The lights went out and the packed venue went into a frenzy. The members of Wintersun came out and started playing the first track from the newest album, Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring). Frontman Jari Mäenpää was the last to come out just in time to start singing the vocals to the song. Mäenpää has a truly stunning voice as he sang with growls matching the album perfectly. If you can get used to the long songs, the music itself is some of the most beautiful melodic death metal you will ever hear making you feel both majestic and as if you are floating in space. After almost fifteen minutes, the first song came to an end as Mäenpää sang the final lyric, “Die and be born agaaaain!” which had fans singing along. For the second song, Wintersun went back to their 2004 self-titled album and performed Winter Madness, one of their more popular tracks which was well received by fans. Two more songs from the debut album would be performed which were Sleeping Stars and Starchild. Back to performing songs from the newest album, Wintersun next played Loneliness (Winter) which is one of the most beautiful songs that Wintersun plays. The moshing stopped and everyone’s eyes were on stage as Wintersun played this emotional song. Wintersun finally next played a song from their Time 1 album which was the first track Sons of Winter and Stars and it had people singing along to the catchy chorus. Back to the newest album, Wintersun next played The Forest That Weeps (Summer) and is perhaps the best song on the album. Normally the chorus has a choir featuring singers from other Finnish metal bands, but for this tour, all the members of the band would perform the choir chorus and it still sounded beautiful just as it does on the album. Wintersun surprised the audience by performing a brand new song titled Storm. As to whether this song will be in the next album or an EP of some sort remains to be seen. Sadly, it was time for the show to come to an end. For the end, Wintersun played Battle Against Time then left the stage. Fans weren’t ready to go home just yet and stayed chanting the band’s name. After a brief break, Wintersun came back out for one last song. The encore would be one of the band’s best songs, Time. A perfect fitting for the show’s end with it’s catchy and emotional chorus. The show had come to an end and Wintersun shook hands with fans and signed fans’ items. Hopefully it’s not another five years before Wintersun returns.

 

September Mourning: Whisky A Go Go – Hollywood, Ca – 9/16/18

We’re No Gentlemen is an alternative rock band from Long Beach, California. They were one of the few bands that were the opening act for the headliner, September Mourning. They have been aggressively hitting the LA music scene and even earned themselves a spot on the Las Vegas stop of the Vans Warped Tour in 2017. They proved to be a highly energetic band as they started with Disguise. Vocalist Amanda Gabel has a very energetic stage presence as she regularly went out to interact with the audience. Their set was filled with songs to make you rock out which included Mirror Mirror, Home and Night. The band has only released two EP’s so far with the second one titled This Is Home and is set to release on October 5th. To give their audience a taste of it, they played Promises from the upcoming EP which they have also released a music video for. We’re No Gentlemen is slowly, but surely climbing the ladder to make themselves one of the most promising rock bands coming out of Southern California.

 

Headlining the show was the hard rock band September Mourning and they were here to collect the souls of Los Angeles fans who the band refers to as their Children of Fate. The band came to be originally from a graphic novel depicting the character of September Mourning played by singer Emily Lazar as a human-reaper hybrid, who feels the need to give some human souls a second chance, and thus toys with Fate. To get the full experience of the band one must not only submerge themselves in the music, but the graphic novels as well. The stage was set up with a back screen which showed the beginning of the graphic novel as an animated short. September came to the stage as she entered the human realm with her reapers. September Mourning Started the show with Angels to Dust, the first song from their newest album titled Volume II. Right away, you get a taste of the band’s vibe from their music as they combine gothic imagery with hard rock music. In between songs, September Mourning would step aside so the back screen could show the next chapter of the graphic novel. September Mourning would come back out and continue to mesmerize the fans by playing tracks like Eye of the Storm, Children of Fate, and Skin and Bones. September had a great stage presence as she gracefully made use of the whole stage and flipped her hair with every opportunity that let her shine. The show came to an end with one of the band’s catchiest and best songs 20 Below which also has a music video out. September Mourning is a great experience to witness live, especially if you love a theatrical band.

 

September Mourning

 

We’re No Gentlemen

Tarja: El Rey – Los Angeles, Ca 9/14/18

Finnish singer Tarja Turunen is most famously known for fronting Finnish symphonic metal legends Nightwish from 1996 until her dismissal in 2005. In 2006, she started her solo career and since then has released seven studio albums (four rock, two Christmas, one classical). In 2016, she released her sixth studio album The Shadow Self and has been actively touring for the album. Since her departure from Nightwish, Tarja has not preformed in the USA until this year when she announced four exclusive shows promoting her latest live album titled Act II so the tour was called Act II Release Shows. The final stop on the tour was the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles so fans of hers and Nightwish were finally able to see her in all her glory. Even before doors opened, a line had formed outside the venue in anticipation after waiting for many years.

The lights went out and fans cheered and yelled out Tarja’s name as her band member’s came out. Tarja was the last to come out as the band started the show with No Bitter End from the latest album. Tarja’s voice only seems to get better with age as she graciously performed her operatic vocals to perfection as heard on the album. Fans were ecstatic to finally get their chance to see Tarja perform in person. The second song performed was 500 Letters followed by Demons In You. Throughout the whole night, Tarja was full of energy and showed she was happy to be back in Los Angeles after a long time. After a few more songs, Tarja surprised fans by performing snippet covers of Nightwish songs which included Tutankhamen/Ever Dream/The Riddler/Slaying the Dreamer. To tone things down for a bit, the band sat down to perform an acoustic set which consisted of The Reign/Mystique Voyage/House of Wax/I Walk Alone. The show was coming close to an end as the band performed Undertaker, Love to Hate then finished up with Victim of Ritual. The band left the stage and fans didn’t seem to wanna leave as they cheered and chanted Tarja’s name. After a short break, the band came back out and performed some encores. The encores were Innocence and Die Alive before wrapping up the show with Until My Last Breath. Tarja put on a truly beautiful performance that should be witnessed by any and all fans of Nightwish. Hopefully it’s not a very long time before she comes back.

 

Helloween: Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles, Ca 9/8/18

German power metal legends and creators Helloween set out on the Pumpkins United World Tour. This tour was a special occasion because it featured the return of co-founder and guitarist Kai Hansen who left the band in 1988 to form power metal band, Gamma Ray. The tour also features the return of the band’s best vocalist Michael Kiske who was fired from the band in 1993. With two of the band’s key members returning, fans of the band could finally see the pioneers of power metal as they were many years ago. Helloween has been fronted by Andi Deris since 1994. Instead of relieving him of his duties, Helloween kept him in the band and so now have two vocalists sharing duties for certain or singing their perspective songs from their perspective albums. The second stop of the tour was the Hollywood Palladium and even well before doors open, fans were lined up going around the venue in anticipation for the show. A tour like this is so special, that no opening act was needed and so Helloween would have the stage to themselves and would play for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The lights went out and fans cheered and chanted the band’s name as the back screen lit up showing clips as the band members made their way to the stage. Helloween started their show with Halloween, a 13-minute monster of an opening song to get the crowd going with this classic. Having Hansen back in the back felt right and natural as a band live should feel. The music sounds perfect as it does on the album even 31 years later. The second preformed was another one of the band’s biggest hits Dr. Stein and the chorus allows the fans to sing along whenever Kiske signaled them too. The third song performed was I’m Alive, the opening track to their classic 1987  album Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1 which is no doubt one of the greatest metal albums of all time. Kiske’s high-pitch vocals and the guitar solo to the song is what helped spark the sound to European-style power metal. Once the song was over, the band took a quick break while the stage screen showed caricatures of pumpkin humanoids messing around with instruments and rock star outfits. These short movies would appear after every couple of songs to entertain the crowd. After a couple of more songs, Helloween returned to their roots from their debut album Walls of Jericho when Hansen handled both guitars and vocals. Hansen performed a medley of songs from the album which were Starlight, Ride the Sky and Judas. The only full song he performed was Heavy Metal (Is the Law). Kiske came back out to join the band to perform the beautiful ballad A Tale That Wasn’t Right. Kiske announced that this is the second time since 1987 that he has performed the song. It was beautifully performed and the crowd could be seen singing along soaking in the beautiful music. Deris came back out to join the band for a duet of Pumpkins United, a brand new song from Helloween which features Kiske, Hansen, and Deris sharing lead vocals. The band went off stage leaving drummer Daniel Löble on his drum kit as he performed a drum solo. A little after, the back screen showed a VHS tape going into a VCR showing an old drum solo from the band’s original drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg who died in 1995. It was a tribute that Helloween gave to their fallen brother. Löble came back out to perform a drum duet with Schwichtenberg which made the tribute perfect as fans cheered and called out Schwichtenberg’s name. Helloween continued the show and played many more classic like A Little Time, Sole Survivor, and How Many Tears. The show seemed to come to an end, but fans weren’t ready to go home as the chanted the band’s name. Helloween came back out to perform some of their best songs. The first encore was the fan-favorite Eagle Fly Free followed by the 13-minute epic track, Keeper of the Seven Keys. Helloween left the stage again, but once again fans stayed and chanted the band’s name. The back screen lit up once again to show the conclusion to the short movies involving the pumpkin humanoids and soon after, Helloween came back out for two more encores. The next encore was Future World, another one of their best songs and got the crowd singing along with its catchy chorus and guitar solos. The final song of the night was the band’s most famous song I Want Out and Helloween made the song extra fun by tossing out balloons with pumpkins on them and were tossed around like beach balls. Fans were moshing, crowd surfing, and singing along to the super catchy finale. The show came to a grand ending and had fans cheering and smiling as Helloween bowed to the audience and left the stage for the final time.

 

Napalm Death: Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles, Ca 8/28/18

  

 

The sold out Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles was set for a night of amazing metal bands. On this Tuesday night, metalheads were blessed by Thrown Into Exile, Crematorium, Cattle Decapitation, and British grindcore legends Napalm Death. Los Angeles was not ready for this sh0w and the bands performing were more than ready to shred the night away as metalheads filled the venue ready for a good night.

Up first was Los Angeles local band Thrown Into Exile. Having been around since 2011, they have been slowly but surely rising to the top and opening for some big name metal bands whenever they come to town. Thrown Into Exile is the band you listen to when you’re looking for a fresh metalcore sound with harsh vocals and shredding guitar solos. They always get the crowd going wild with an energetic stage presence as they pummeled through tracks such as Idol of One and The Wronged. Thrown Into Exile is cooking up their sophomore album which is due for a release soon. To give the audience a taste, they played a new song titled Death’s Reprise. The band’s sound seems to improve and mature as the band grows. Their second album will surely be worth a listen once it comes out. With a short set, Thrown Into Exile finished up their set with Declination from their only album out, Safe Inside. Thrown Into Exile got the audience warmed for the rest of the bands.

Cattle Decapitation are an extreme metal band from San Diego, California. Despite their name, Cattle Decapitation‘s songs deal with the mistreatment and consumption of animals, the abuse of the environment and the misanthropy and genocide of the human race. Lots of fans were there specifically for them as they could be seen shouting out the band’s name before they came on as well as wearing the band’s merch. Cattle Decapitation came out and started the show with The Carbon Stampede. Right away, you’ll hear the brutality and speed of the band’s music and always gets the crowd going with mosh pits. The next song was Dead Set on Suicide. Both songs are from the band’s 2012 album, Monolith of Inhumanity. Songs like this display guitarist Josh Elmore’s guitar playing as his hand moves up and down on the neck of his guitar in inhuman speed and is mesmerizing to watch. Vocalist Travis Ryan filled the venue with his deep guttural vocals that, in a strange way, are pleasant to listen to. Cattle Decapitation always puts on a great show and never have a quiet moment when they perform blistering tracks like The Prophets of Loss, Clandestine Ways (Krokodil Rot), and the fan-favorite Forced Gender Reassignment. They currently have a new album in the works which will be released sometime next year which leaves fans something to look forward to. Cattle Decapitation ended their show with Pacific Grim from their latest album The Anthropocene Extinction then left the stage leaving the fans hungry for more as the headlining band was set to go on.

Napalm Death are grindcore legends from Britain. They have been active since 1981 and their debut album Scum was released in 1987. Since the album’s release, none of the original members are part of the band. The current lineup has been the band’s staple since 1992, with the exception of guitarist Mitch Harris who has been on a hiatus from the band since 2014 due to illness within his family. Napalm Death‘s music is notorious for short songs often spanning 30 seconds to two minutes, though from their newer albums, they have reverted to normal-length songs for the most part. In 2015, they released their newest album Apex Predator – Easy Meat to positive reviews and will be working on the next album in the near future. By the time Napalm Death was ready to hit the stage, the venue was packed to max capacity with fans screaming out the band’s name as they eagerly awaited for the show to start. Napalm Death finally came out and started with the first two tracks from their debut album titled Multinational Corporations and Instinct of Survival. Napalm Death really got the crowd going. For the most part, the crowd had remained calm with mosh pits that were barely felt up front. Once Napalm Death started, things really hit the fan. Shoving started and fans rushed the stage and in no time, stage divers started to make an appearance and were constant for the whole performance. Vocalist Barney Greenway unleashed his incomprehensible guttural vocals and shrieks onto the audience that has made him famous and is the band’s signature sound. During the performance of The Wolf I Feed, a fan got on stage and in the process, knocked over the mic from guitarist John Cooke and hit him in the mouth. Cooke was so upset by it that he shoved the fan making him land on top of fans behind him. After the song was over, Greenway let the audience know that Cooke was hit in the mouth by the microphone and in the process, it chipped one of his teeth. Bassist Shane Embury had to tell the audience to stage dive away from the band’s equipment. The fans stayed wild the whole time as Napalm Death rampaged through classic like Practice What You Preach, On the Brink of Extinction, and their most famous song, Scum. One of the fun parts of the show is when Napalm Death plays their shortest song called, You Suffer. The song You Suffer is in the Guinness World Records as the shortest song in the world, at only 1.316 seconds long. Suffer the Children is one of the band’s most popular songs and is a subject of anti-religion when religion is forced on children which the band is against. Nearing the end of their set, Napalm Death played a Dead Kennedys cover of Nazi Punks Fuck Off which always drives the mosh pits wilder and stage divers were everywhere. The show came to an end as Napalm Death played the last two songs back to back which were Cesspits and Inside the Torn Apart. Napalm Death left the stage and the audience themselves were tired and sweaty from all the chaos that happened.

 

Napalm Death

 

Cattle Decapitation

 

Thrown Into Exile

Armored Saint: House of Blues – Anaheim, Ca – 8/17/18

Heavy metal leaders Armored Saint went out on tour to perform their critically acclaimed fourth studio album Symbol of Salvation in its entirety. The band was originally formed in 1982 in Los Angeles by brothers Phil (lead guitar) and Gonzo (drums) Sandoval. The second to last stop on the tour was the Parish Room at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California. The show sold out way ahead of time so for sure it was set to be a night filled with heavy metal manics. The opening act for the tour are Act of Defiance and they made for a great opening act to get the crowd warmed up.

Act of Defiance are a heavy/thrash metal band from Los Angeles, Ca. The band features lead guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover; both who are former members  of thrash metal legends, Megadeth. They released their newest album Old Scars, New Wounds in 2017. Act of Defiance came out to an already packed venue and started the show with M.I.A. and got the crowd going wild. Broderick displayed his fast guitar playing as he shred through the songs and vocalist Henry Derek growled through the set with ease. Other songs in their set included Legion of Lies, Poison Dream and The Talisman. Act of Defiance made for a great opening act for the tour and were most definitely enjoyed by the audience.

Armored Saint was the headliner of the night and by the time they were getting ready to come out, the venue was packed to max capacity filled with heavy metal maniacs. The lights went out and the sold out venue cheered as the members of Armored Saint made their way to the stage and started the show with their most famous song, March of the Saint off their debut album of the same name. The crowd went wild with heads banging and horns being raised. Vocalist John Bush delivered some fine heavy metal vocals and let the crowd sing with him as he sang the chorus, “It’s the March of the Saaaint! March of the Saint!”. The next two songs were Long Before I Die and Chemical Euphoria. After these songs, Bush announced the start of the Symbol of Salvation album and naturally, the crowd cheered. The album starts with Reign of Fire, one of Armored Saint‘s live staple hits and plenty of fans could be seen singing along. Other live staple hits from the album included Last Train Home, Tribal Dance, and Symbol of Salvation. Halfway through the album, Bush spoke to the audience about Armored Saint‘s sixth member Dave Prichard who passed away in 1990. Prichard may not be in the band physically, but he will always be with them in spirit. Armored Saint played Another Day in his honor and the energy of the song was felt throughout the whole venue. The album came to a finale with Spineless. Bush announced how instead of walking backstage and pretending to end the show then come back out for encores, that the band would stay right there and perform their encores right then and there. The first encore was Pay Dirt followed by Left Hook From Right Field. After a night of classic heavy metal, it was time to say goodbye. To end the night, Armored Saint played Can U Deliver which is the band’s usual closing song and another one of their biggest hits. The show came to a close and the band members came out to the audience to greet fans and thank everyone for coming out to celebrate heavy metal.

 

Act of Defiance

 

Armored Saint

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