Author: Misael (page 1 of 5)

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

Ghoul: Velvet Jones – Santa Barbara, CA – 8/12/18

  

The masked hooligans from Creepsylvania Ghoul made a stop on their Weapons of Mosh Destruction tour at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara, California. A small, but intimate setting where chances are, the venue had no idea what it was in for. Ghoul is still touring in support of their newest album, Dungeon Bastards. If you’ve never experienced Ghoul live, you are in for a real gross treat.

Two politicians came out on stage and started talking to the audience before unveiling the Necronomicon book. The members of Ghoul made their way to the stage with axes and hacked away at the politicians. The result? the main attraction at a Ghoul concert.

Ghoul started the show with Ghoulunatics as the politicians started spraying blood (red dye) at the audience. The audience went wild as they willingly let themselves get sprayed as part of the fun at a Ghoul concert. Thrash metal plus blood being sprayed everywhere is the perfect combo. Ghoul continued the madness with Ghetto Blasters/Bringer of War and kept the energy going as the fans kept the mosh pits alive. Ghoul would bring out more of their ridiculous characters that would always end up  with more blood being sprayed at the audience. Ghoul played more tunes from their newest album which included Shred the Dead, Dungeon Bastards, and Word Is Law. Other classics included Splatterthrash, Rot Gut, and Spill Your Guts where bassist Cremator ripped the head off a baby doll and squirted blood from the lifeless body onto the audience.

In between songs, Ghoul would tell short stories as if they were in a play that would always leave the audience laughing and would lead to the next song. One of the more fun songs played was Abominox and of course Ghoul brought out the gross mutant monster known to the universe as Abominox as it almost successfully devoured the band members. Guitarmageddon was the perfect finish to the show and Ghoul left the stage for the audience to fend for themselves. After a few minutes, the band made their way back to the stage and let the fans know that this is the part of the show where they go home. The fans refused to do so and to reward their dedication, Ghoul played a couple of encores. The first encore was Metallicus Ex Mortis.

The grand finale of the night was Gutbucket Blues and it featured an ape-like creature with dangling testicles throwing chunks of blood and flesh from a bucket labeled as “Whale Cum” at the audience and eventually led to the whole bucket being flung at the audience. Ghoul finished the show once again and left. What was left of the venue? Mass blood and chunks everywhere and everyone up front looking like they were just put through a meat grinder. If you’ve never seen the live macabre that is Ghoul, they are for sure not to be missed next time they grind their way to your city.

Hail Creepsylvania!

 

Foreigner/Whitesnake: FivePoint Amphitheater – Irvine, Ca 8/1/18

  

 

Classic rock band Foreigner announced the Juke Box Heroes tour to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary. They are one of the best-selling bands of all time with worldwide sales of more than 80 million records and 14 top 20 Billboard hot chart hits. Joining them on this historic tour are the British hard rock band Whitesnake and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. The last stop on the tour was the newly opened FivePoint Amphitheater in Irvine, California. I missed Jason Bonham due to the usual nightmare that is Southern California traffic, but I made it in time for Whitesnake. The venue was already packed by them time Whitesnake was set to start the show.
Whitesnake came out and started the show with Bad Boys. Whitesnake received a positive response from the audience as most if not everyone present was familiar with their music. Fronting the band was David Coverdale who at one point was the singer for British rock legends, Deep Purple. The second song performed was Give Me All Your Love followed by Love Ain’t No Stranger. The band has great stage presence with not a dull moment in their performance. Even at 66 years old, Coverdale’s voice has not aged and he sounded amazing as he sang all the classics with precision. After a few more tracks, Whitesnake started to perform some of the their most famous songs that got the audience singing and dancing along. The first of the classics was Is This Love which reached number two on the US charts in 1987 making it their second-biggest hit in the US. The next classic is the band’s best-known song and one of the most well-known songs in the rock/metal community, Here I Go Again. The song reached number one on the US charts in 1987 and is often labeled as one of the greatest songs of the 80’s. Everyone was on their feet singing along and felt the good vibes throughout the venue. Ending their set was another one of the band’s most popular songs and their usual encore/ending song, Still of the Night. This song is widely considered one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time. Plenty of people were rocking out to this tune which included head banging and raising their horns. The show had to come to an end, but Whitesnake‘s career is still strong as they are set to release their thirteenth studio album in 2019 titled Flesh & Blood. Whitesnake thanked the audience for coming out and cleared the stage for the headlining band of the night.

  

 

Foreigner is hailed as one of the greatest bands of all time. Since their formation in 1976, only guitarist/songwriter Mick Jones is the band’s sole-remaining original member. He’s such a legendary songwriter that in 2013, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The lights went out and the packed venue erupted into a roar as the band members made their way to the stage one at a time and started the show with Long, Long Way from Home from their 1977 self-titled debut album. At first glance, you’ll notice that Mick Jones is missing on stage for whatever personal reasons. Still, the band got a loud welcome from the audience as smiles and singing were seen wherever you looked. The second song performed is one of the band’s most popular songs Double Vision from their second album of the same name. Foreigner always has great stage presence and is amazing live band to be witnessed by fans of all ages. Foreigner kept bringing out the classics as they played Head Games, Cold As Ice, and Waiting for a Girl Like You which is one of the band’s most successful songs reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard’s Rock Tracks. Foreigner took a quick break while singer Kelly Hansen introduced Mick Jones to the stage and had him start the very first song that the fans heard from their debut album, Feels Like the First Time. Urgent was next and is another one of the band’s most popular songs as well as one of the more fun songs performed live. Nothing gets the crowd excited quite like the signature sax solo from Thom Gimbel. Starrider is another single from the debut album and the song’s soothing tone was only matched at the end with fireworks raining down from the stage. Foreigner took a break on stage while drummer Chris Frazier performed a drum solo. Once his solo was over, he started performing the familiar bass drum intro to another one of Foreigner‘s most popular songs, Juke Box Hero. The song has over a million digital downloads and is certified platinum by the RIAA. The audience was surprised to see that Hansen was on top of a pedestal in the middle of the crowd singing the song. A lot of people were seen singing and dancing along to the song. Hansen went back to the stage and started talking to the audience about love and asked everyone to wrap their arms around the person next to them as they prepared to play their biggest hit and their only #1 song in the US and UK, I Want to Know What Love Is. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful songs ever written and hearing it live is one of the most beautiful things. Joining Foreigner on stage was the Rosewood Avenue Elementary School Choir as they sang the choir part towards the end of the song. It was time for the show to come to an end and so Foreigner played another one of their biggest hits Hot Blooded which the single has sold over one million units. To go with the song, Foreigner had fire coming out of the stage to go with the theme of the song which made it all the more exciting. Foreigner thanked the audience for coming out, bowed to the audience and left the stage as the audience cheered and thanked them for a truly spectacular performance by one of rock’s biggest bands.

 

Whitesnake

 

Foreigner

The Black Dahlia Murder: House of Blues – Anaheim, Ca – 7/6/18

 

Fleshgod Apocalypse is a death metal band from Italy. In 2016, they released their fourth album King. On October 2017, their fan base was shocked when the band’s longtime singer/guitarist Tommaso Ricardi exited the band. As a replacement, the band’s drummer Francesco Paoli will return to being the guitarist/vocalist for the band as he was for the band’s early days and first album. Taking over drums for this tour will be David Folchitto from the extrem metal band Stormlord. This would be the band’s first US tour with the current lineup. The lights went out and the violin outro to The Deceit filled the sold out venue. Fleshgod Apocalypse came out and started the show with The Violation and immediately sent the crowd-filled floor into a frenzy with moshing and crowd surfing. Fleshgod Apocalypse seems to only get better with time and their music will make any person headbang and throw their metal horns in the air. Their music was backed up by the haunting operatic voice of Veronica Bordacchini. Paoli’s voice is a force to be reckoned with as he unleashed hell on the sold out crowd. Their setlist consisted of some of their best songs including Healing Through War, The Fool, and The Egoism. The whole band was very energetic with not a single dull moment in their performance. Being one of the opening bands, they had a short set and the final song of the night was their most popular song, The Forsaking. Upon finishing their set, they got a huge standing ovation from the Orange County crowd with fans praising their performance and commenting how amazing they were as it was most likely their first time seeing and hearing the band.

 

The headlining band for the tour was The Black Dahlia Murder. In 2017, they released their eighth album Nightbringers. The album became the best-selling direct-to-consumer in Metal Blade Records’ history. To celebrate the occasion, The Black Dahlia Murder would perform the album in its entirety on their current tour. The sold out House of Blues was packed to capacity on this hot day and the crowd was more than ready to continue to show their support for one of America’s most popular bands. The lights went out and the fans screamed at the top of their lungs as the members came out and started the show with the first track from the Nightbringers album, Widowmaker. Vocalist Trevor Strnad was the last to come out and once he started the singing, the mosh pits went wild once again with even crowd servers being plentiful during the whole show. The second song was Of God and Serpent, Of Spectre and Snake and it drove the audience just as wild. The Black Dahlia Murder is known to have wild shows and this show was no exception. Strnad’s wicked vocals always drives the audience wild and goes perfectly with the fast guitar work. The album continued with Jars and Kings of the Underworld. The Black Dahlia Murder took a quick break from the album to surprise the audience by playing their most popular hit, What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse. The song got its name from a quote from the 1988 video game Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. The Nightbringers album continued with Catacomb Hecatomb and eventually finished with The Lonely Deceased. Strnad announced that that was the whole Nightbringers album, but they weren’t finished with the show. The show continued with Everything Went Black and the fans continued to make the band proud by giving it their all in the mosh pit despite how hot and sweaty they were. The grand finale of the show was Deathmask Divine and the crowd went totally berserk. The show came to an end and nothing but smiles were seen among the audience as going to a metal show was the perfect way to spend a Friday night.

 

Fleshgod Apocalypse

 

 

The Black Dahlia Murder

 

Insomnium: Whisky A Go Go – Hollywood, Ca – 6/6/18

  

 

Insomnium is a melodic death metal band from Finland. In 2016, they released their seventh studio album titled Winter’s Gate. The album is an interesting concept because it consists of a single 40-minute epic track, but is broken up into seven parts on the album. The album’s story is said to be about “a group of vikings who set out to find a fabled island west of Ireland, despite the treacherous winter drawing near.” Insomnium announced a North American tour and on this tour, they would perform the entire Winter’s Gate album as well as other greatest hits. The venue for the event would take place at the world-famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California.
The Whisky A Go Go was nicely packed by the time Insomnium came out to the stage at around 11:40pm. They started with Winter’s Gate pt.1 since it is the album’s opening track. The music sounds sounds just as beautiful live as it does on the album itself. Insomnium was primarily doused in dark blue lights, possibly to match the winter theme of the album and at times made it hard to see the band. Fans cheered as the band played as well as raised their horns and head banged to the music. The fans seemed to stay relatively calm which isn’t a surprise given that Insomnium‘s music is meant to be soaked in and enjoyed rather than form mosh pits. It wasn’t until roughly part 4 of Winter’s Gate where the crowd finally seemed to come to life and started a mosh pit and kept it up for most of the show. The album’s finale Winter’s Gate pt. 7 was played and Insomnium left the stage much to the fan’s disappointment. After a few minutes, it was time for the second half of the show. Insomnium made their way back to the stage and started to play some songs from their previous album, Shadows of the Dying Sun. The first song played from that album was The Primeval Dark. Once again, fans started rocking out to the music which went perfectly together. The next song played was the next song on the album, While We Sleep. Insomnium truly makes some beautiful melodic death metal to rock out to and to just enjoy. Insomnium would go on to play more hits which included Revelations, Killjoy, and the beautiful and emotional track, The Promethean Song.  Sadly, it was time for the show to come to an end. for the show’s finale, Insomnium played Ephemeral. The perfect tune to end the night with and continue moshing away. Insomnium wrapped up their show, thanked the fans for coming out, then left the stage.

 

Slayer: FivePoint Amphitheatre – Irvine, CA – 5/11/18

  

Thrash metal legends Slayer recently announced that after over 35 years of making music, the band would embark on their farewell tour. To make sure that they went out with a bang, Slayer brought with them on tour some of the biggest bands in metal. It included Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth, and Testament. The second stop on the tour was the newly built FivePoint Amphitheater in Irvine, California. SoCal was so ready for this show that it sold out just  days after tickets went on sale. Even on this rainy day, fans still packed the venue early on. I missed Testament due to the usual nightmare that is Southern California traffic, but luckily I made it in time for the mighty Behemoth.

  

Behemoth are a blackened death metal band from Poland. They are currently riding on the success from their 2014 release The Satanist which earned the #1 spot on Loudwire’s 2014 metal albums of the year. Behemoth is now cooking up new music which we will hear very soon. Behemoth came out to the sold out audience and started the show with Ov fire and the Void. Right away, you can feel the evil in the band’s music and it gave you a feeling of discomfort, yet made you headbang and raise your horns to the music. Frontman Nergal always has a way with words when interacting with the audience and announcing the next song. To introduce the second song, Nergal said to the audience, “Let us rejoice, my brethren, for God is no more. This is Demigod!” and so the second song was Demigod from Behemoth‘s famed album, Demigod. One of the highlights of the show was when Behemoth announced their upcoming album which has yet to have any info on it, but Behemoth still gave the audience a taste of new music and played a brand new track, Wolves ov Siberia. Behemoth‘s set came to an end when they played O Father O Satan O Sun!, the final track from their album, The Satanist. The song seems to be over when all the band members leave, then they come back out for the ending of the song wearing the horned masks as seen on their music for Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel. A powerful set by this fine metal band and the show was still getting warmed up.

  

If you’re a Slayer fan, chances are you are also a fan of thrash metal veterans, Anthrax. Alongside Slayer, Anthrax are part of the “Big 4” of thrash metal (Megadeth and Metallica being the other two). Anthrax released their newest album For All Kings in 2016. With lots of fans in the audience, Anthrax was ready to tear it up. Anthrax started the show with the always satisfying Caught in a Mosh as guitarist Scott Ian started the familiar guitar intro to the song. The song was written specifically for people in the mosh pit so naturally, a mosh pit formed right away and even crowd surfers started to make their way to the front. Thrash metal is some of the best music to see live as it always makes for crazy crowds. Anthrax proved this as they continued their thrash assault with their most popular hit, Madhouse. A song that’s super fun to sing along to, yet always makes for some insane mosh pits. Anthrax went on to play some classics like I Am the Law, Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.), and Antisocial. Anthrax never had a dull moment in their show so when it came to the end, singer Joey Belladonna asked for a huge mosh pit as they played Indians. A great way to end their set and make way for the next band.

  

Lamb of God are a metal band from Richmond, Virginia. On May 18, 2018, Lamb of God released a new album under their previous band name, Burn the Priest. The album’s name is Legion: XX and is an album with punk covers. The lights went out and the audience cheered as the intro vocal track for Omerta started. The band made their way to the stage and started Omerta. By this time, rain had started to descend upon the sold out audience and with the venue being outdoor, it made it difficult to withstand the rain as fans tried to shield themselves from the rain. Frontman Randy Blythe always makes sure to interact with the fans as he would talk to them and make sure everyone is having a good time. Lamb of God next played one of their popular hits Ruin followed by a song from their previous album, 512. Blythe offered the audience to take a walk with him in hell, so Lamb of God next played Walk With Me in Hell, one of their most popular songs and always drives the mosh pits wild. It was during halfway through the song when Blythe brought the song to a halt when he noticed that a fan was injured in the mosh pit. He had people move out of the way so EMT’s could get to the injured fan. What a guy. After about ten minutes, Lamb of God continued the song. Nearing the end of the show, Lamb of God played their most popular song Laid to Rest which drove the fans even crazier and has fans singing along. To end their set, Lamb of God played their Grammy-nominated song, Redneck. Blythe asked for the biggest mosh of the night and so the audience gave him just that. A wild ending for Lamb of God and still the main band of the night has yet to come on.

  

Kings of thrash metal Slayer are undoubtedly one of the most important metal bands of all time. The majority of bands that have come out within the last 25 years or so can say that they have been influenced by Slayer. The rain was still in effect, but that wasn’t stopping fans from having a good time. Even before Slayer came on stage, the fans were eagerly chanting, “Slayer! Slayer! Slayer!” as any Slayer audience should. The intro track Delusions of Saviour started and the stage came to life as fire started to engulf the stage, including Slayer‘s eagle logo. The band made their way to the stage and started with Repentless, the first track from their newest 2015 album, Repentless. Right away, you could feel 35+ years of thrash metal come to life as Slayer unleashed hell on the fully-packed venue. Mosh pits formed and crowd surfers kept coming. Their song Disciple is a live staple as fans love singing along to “God Hates Us All! God Hates Us All!”. All four bands members were on fire that night. Literally. As the band played, the pyro behind the stage would go off to match the rhythm of the song. Pyro makes everything better. Slayer blasted through many classic from throughout their career which included Mandatory Suicide, Black Magic, Postmortem, and Blood Red. Frontman Tom Araya took a quick break to talk to audience. He asked, “you guys wanna say WAR with me!?” the audience cheered in agreement. He asked, “are you ready!?” and the crowd cheered some more. Araya let out a powerful “WAAAAARRRRRR” along with audience as Slayer played one of their best songs, War Ensemble. Oh, how the pits went wild. Slayer dug deep into their catalog and played more old school classics like Hell Awaits, Seasons in the Abyss, and Dead Skin Mask. Slayer played South of Heaven signaling that the show was near its end. As the song ended, the band members huddled around drummer Paul Bostaph as he drummed the familiar drum pattern to their most famous song and one of the greatest songs in metal, Raining Blood. Whether you like Slayer or not, you have heard Raining Blood. Slayer played Raining Blood and everyone was seen headbanging, raising their horns, and even multiple mosh pit had broken out on the floor. Metal truly brings people together. Chemical Warfare was next and kept up the energy that Slayer had going all night. The show had come to an end and so Slayer played one of their most popular hits, Angel of Death. Araya let out one of the most infamous screams in metal which is how the song is played and is satisfying to have the scream piercing your ears. Slayer wrapped up their show and came out front and center stage to thank the audience for coming out. Araya held an intimate speech with the audience thanking them for all the years of support, “if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be here. Thank you and goodnight”. Slayer walked off stage as a sense of gloom covered the venue with many fans knowing that they had seen the thrash metal legends most likely for the final time.

 

Behemoth

 

 

Anthrax

 

Lamb of God

 

Slayer

Municipal Waste: The Regent – Los Angeles, Ca – 4/27/18

The weekend hails upon So-Cal and with only a month’s notice, we are graced with the presence of Richmond’s beloved Municipal Waste. Recently I was able to catch this spectacle with the Mr. Pickles tour opening for the Bay area’s, Exodus which was nothing but a fantastic show. This evening in particular was just as epic. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve witnessed a room go completely ballistic and its a sight to behold every time. My take on this show is best described as complete madness and in the best way possible. Alongside MW were 3 opening bands: The Trappist, Savage Master, and Despise You.
Savage Master: Though as usual being in the LA area I always have the hardest time catching the opening band which was ‘Despise you’ I was lucky enough to walk in as ‘Savage Master’ took the stage. Ive seen this band on a smaller stage a few months back and since then have been in touch with catching them on future gigs. Like most Women fronted bands you adhere to a certain type of vibe, however, SM is able to deliver in a crowding venue as the seconds go by. With bangers such as “With whips and chains, “Burning Leather” and “Ready to Sin” they’re able to keep the crowd growing and chanting. These hellions are best fitted into the traditional heavy metal scene with pounding fists, leather and chains being the way they represent themselves and their music. Truly heavy and worth catching on any future shows.
Setlist:
Black Hooves
Vengeance Is Steel
With Whips and Chains
Satan’s Crown
Looking for a Sacrifice
Burning Leather
Dark Light of the Moon
Ready to Sin
The Ripper in Black
Death Rides the Highway
The Trappist:
Now, I’m one for being open minded through and through because I feel that its the best way to enjoy anything and everything. This band surprisingly made me consider that statement just a tad bit. Definitely won’t say anything negative on their behalf since they of course have their own unique style of doing things. The best way I can describe ‘ The Trappist’ would be speedy gutter grindcore. Don’t quote me on that exact label, but to me it’s what fit best. With a few tunes that were literally only about 5 seconds long and what appeared to be off tempo rhythm. I am definitely sure I heard one song played about 3 times. This band can bring a crowd together as well as make’em move. I can see that half of the people were into it while the other were just as confused as I was. This does not mean they aren’t any good, it just goes to show that there are times when these kinds of bands aren’t worth bringing to this sort of lineup. Nonetheless; If I do happen to catch them live again I’m sure it would be with their extreme types of bands playing alongside.
Setlist:
No Soldier Left Behind
This Means Wort
Victims Of A Bomber Raid
Patron Saints
Swignorant
Giving The Boot 
Municipal Waste:
Now, the main reason why this house was entirely full, with fans out at the front door asking anyone and everyone who had a spare ticket at a fully sold out show. After announcing that 100 tickets were left and in a few short hours being completely gone, there’s only one thing you’d have to expect at a show like this. The only predicament I fell into when taking photos during the Wastes set was that there was little to no room you could consider “safe” especially for a camera lens. With fists flying and legs kicking high up in the air and what looked like 20 people up on the center stage simultaneously, the venue was engulfed entirely with angst and rage. Heavy hitting jammers such as “Unleash the Bastards”, “Beer Pressure” and “Slime and Punishment”, the room echoes with chants and screams from all the die hards shouting alongside Tony Foresta’s lyrics. Crunchy rhythms and ripping bass tones are what give MW that signature speed metal punk sound you just love to get active to. The band currently has one show itself in the states before heading over to Canada and then to partake in a number of festivals overseas. Besides MW, the band members are also playing a few shows in their other bands ‘Bat’ and ‘Iron Reagan’. Make sure you check them out as well, as far as performance goes. This band always delivers a party wherever they land!
Setlist:

Breathe Grease

Mind Eraser

You’re Cut Off

I Want to Kill the President

Substitute Creature 

Slime & Punishment

Parole Violators
Headbanger Face Rip 
Terror Shark 

Born To Party

The Inebriator
Pre-Game
The Art of Partying
Photos and review by Hugo Juarez

Municipal Waste

 

The Trappist

 

Savage Master

Nightwish: Ventura Theater – Ventura, Ca 4/12/18

  

 

Nightwish are a symphonic metal band from Finland. They are the most successful Finnish band worldwide, selling more than 9 million records and receiving more than 60 gold and platinum awards, having released five number 1 albums and thirteen number 1 singles. On March 9, 2018 Nightwish released their newest 2CD compilation album Decades which contains remastered versions of the original material. With the release of the compilation album, Nightwish set out on a world tour with a very special setlist. This setlist would include almost all songs from the band’s early career with their original singer, Tarja Turunen. These songs are featured in the band’s first four albums and some haven’t been played in ten years or more. To make the show extra intimate, Nightwish would have no support for the tour and would make each show each night two hours. One of the stops on the tour was the Majestic Ventura Theater in Ventura, California which made for a nice beach setting. As Nightwish was preparing to start, the venue was packed to almost sold out.
Fifteen minutes to the band starting, an intro video would be seen on the screen. With the last minute of the intro, a one minute countdown clock started which got the fans excited. The fans counted down the last ten seconds, then the lights went out. Nightwish member Troy Donockley, who plays the Ullieann pipes, was first to come on stage. He would play the first minute of the song Swanheart which works perfectly for his pipes. The rest of the band would come out and start the show with End of All Hope. This is a song that the band has not played since 2004 so for many fans, it was surely the first time hearing the song live. The second song played was one of Nightwish‘s best songs, Wish I Had An Angel. It is their biggest US hit to date and fans were happily singing along to the song. The third song played was 10th Man Down. This song has also not been played since 2003 making it for a nice treat for fans that will most likely never hear this song live ever again. Singer Floor Jansen looked amazing rocking out with the band as she head banged to the music and gracefully danced. Nightwish continued to bring the old songs into play as they played old favorites from ten years ago or more which included Gethsemane, Sacrament of Wilderness, Dead Boy’s Poem, and Elvenpath. Hearing these old tracks being played for possibly the last time was an amazing feeling of nostalgia for long time fans. Jansen gave these song justice that would make Turunen proud. Up next was one of the band’s newer songs and live staple, I Want My Tears Back. This is perhaps the band’s most fun song to jump and dance to. During the middle of the song is when Donockley plays his pipes and makes everyone dance to the segment as Jansen has everyone jumping, clapping, and she herself is dancing on stage. Moments like this bring fans together showing there is no hate amongst them. Bassist Marco Hietala went on to talk to the audience and joke with them a bit before introducing another old song The Carpenter from their 1997 debut album Angels Fall First which hasn’t been played since 1998, most likely since their first tour ever way before they toured the USA for the first time.  The Kinslayer was up next and this song hasn’t been played since 2005, most likely on the last tour featuring Turunen before being dismissed from the band that same year. This song was written about the victims of the Columbine High School massacre. Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean was next and is another old track that was last played in 1999. The familiar keyboards started and fans cheered as Nightwish played what is perhaps their most famous song, Nemo. Fans everywhere were seen singing along to the song and is always one of the best songs played live by the band. Slaying the Dreamer hasn’t been played since 2008 and is one of the heavier songs by the band and has Jansen rocking out on stage as well as the fans rocking out. Nearing the end of their two-hour set, Nightwish played the longest song in their catalog at 24 minutes, The Greatest Show on Earth from their newest album, Endless Forms Most Beautiful. The song is separated into five parts, but only parts 1-3 were played. The song has a beautiful piano intro then Jansen jumps in with her beautiful soprano voice and sings part one of the song. The rest of the song is played flawlessly for the seventeen minutes of parts 1-3. Sadly, it was time for the show to come to an end. Nightwish would perform their ten-minute symphonic metal masterpiece, Ghost Love Score. A beautifully performed song that made for a perfect ending. Nightwish finished their show and got a standing ovation from the packed venue. It was truly one of Nightwish‘s best tours.

 

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