Category Archives: Live

Blood Feast Live at the Maple Grove Tavern!

Blood Feast
Official Flyer

Blood Feast’s 2017 comeback album “Future State of Wicked” was easily among the best thrash albums of the year with it’s frenzied intensity and blistering shreds that proved the old school guys still got it, so naturally, when they booked a show in my area I made it a point to attend.

Promoter, Chuck Parsons, booked the event at the up and coming metal venue the Maple Grove Tavern. The Maple Grove Tavern has been gaining a reputation as a cool, metal club in recent months, mainly because they’re willing to book rad shows at decent rates while not charging an arm and a leg for booze. Also, they’re a bit gritty without being disgusting. Girls can feel safe using the bathrooms.

Even better, the lineup consisted of the cream of the crop in local fair. Subtype Zero (formerly known as Cringe), HAMMR and FaithXtractor opened for legendary thrashers, Blood Feast.

Subtype Zero

Subtype Zero
Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Perhaps the most impressive band of the evening, other than Blood Feast themselves, Subtype Zero when straight for the audience’s jugular with their harrowing brand of bay area style thrash. Channeling 1985, these Cleveland thrashers melted faces with an intensity reminiscent early Slayer.

These guys are thrash, through and through with distinct hardcore and punk undertones and shreds for weeks. What’s more, with each member’s average age being 21 or younger, these guys left a crowd full of tough dude old enough to be their dads in awe. Subtype Zero played in support of their 2018 release, “The Astral Awakening.” Keep your eyes on these guys. They’re going places.


Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Given multi-instrumentalist J. Hammr’s reputation in the local Cleveland scene, I had high hopes for this band’s performance. J. Hammr is known for his work with the band Devils with the label Redefining DarknessDespite Hammr debut album, “Unholy Destruction” being a overall effective balance of calculated blackened slop and distortion heavy thrash riff magic, the band’s performance at the Maple Grove didn’t really come together for me and several others in the crowd.

I think a big reason HAMMR failed to deliver had to do with the loudness of the drums in comparison with the guitars and the vocals. It really drew attention to repetitive patterns in the drumming that could have been easily overlooked if pushed into the background more. That said, the band’s latest effort, “Unholy Destruction,” is great stuff for fans of Black Witchery,  Revenge and Blasphemy. Hopefully they fine tune their live performance in the future.


Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Other than Blood Feast, the band I was most excited about that evening was FaithXtractor. Known for a bludgeoning form of melodic old school death metal, FaithXtractor always delivers an intense and professional live performance.

The band started off a bit rocky, with sound issues being largely to blame, but quickly came into their own on about third track. Drummer, Ash Thomas (of Estuary fame along with the rest of the band) was the true MVP as he belted out demonic growls into the mic while never missing a beat.

Guitarist, Cody Knarr, donned a Grave t-shirt, which perfectly exemplifies where FaithXtractor draws its influences from. Both Cody and bass player, Zdenka Prado, whipped their long manes about furiously and exhibited true stage presence for the entirety of the show.

FaithXtractor II
Not a moment went by when these guys weren’t headbanging in full swing. Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Cody Knarr’s solos pierced through skin on tracks such as “Flame of the Death Ritual” and “Damned to Return.” FaithXtractor played new tracks “Forsworn Then Burned” and “Damned to Return“, among others in support of their 2018 release “Proverbial Lambs to the Ultimate Slaughter,” which they released back in July.

Blood Feast

Blood Feast Live III
Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting on was upon us. Strapped with energy, Blood Feast hit the stage. The band has had some lineup changes since their formation back in 1987, with the only original member being guitar player, Adam Tranquili, but that fact didn’t slow them down one bit.

Adam Tranquili
Guitarist Adam Tranquili  Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski from WCSB 89.3 FM

Blood Feast opened with “Darkside” a blast from the past from their debut album, “Kill For Pleasure,” setting the tempo for a vigorous night of thrashing to come. They followed this with newer material, such as “INRI” and “Underling,” songs which barely differentiated from the older tracks, in a good way. This is a band that knows their style and does it well, regardless of lineup changes or trends.

Vocalist, Chris Natalini, was energetic and engaged the audience throughout the set. During the new track, “Off With their Heads” he held the mic out to the audience as we all loudly sang along. But, perhaps, the coolest part of the set was when he went live on Facebook with the crowd, leaving a timestamp for fans to look back to for the rest of their days.

The band ended the performance proper with old school tracks, Menacing Thunder and Hunted, Stalked and Slain, leaving the crowd with serious whiplash. One of the coolest things about Blood Feast is how down to earth the guys are. They all stayed after a bit and engaged with fans. If Blood Feast comes to your city, don’t be a poser. Go! You won’t regret it.


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Decibel Tour 2016- Cleveland Edition

decibel tour

It seems to be a thing this year for popular, extreme metal editorials to put on tours.  Maybe it’s always been a thing but I’m only just noticing it.  First MetalSucks now Decibel.  The Decibel Tour offered a great variety of genres, a little something for almost everyone, but had a nocitably black metal bias.  Death metal wasn’t represented at all, but the lineup was diverse enough to attract all sorts of metal heads, from the laissez-faire fans to the die hards.  The turn out was pretty unbelievable.

The show was scheduled at the infamous Agora Theatre.  Ever since Peabody’s closed a few years back The Agora has been the go to place for extreme metal in Cleveland.  The club has that perfect balance between a kind of DIY, dark bar ambience and bathroom cleanliness to be versatile enough for all types of people.  The reasonable ticket and beer prices and cool staff create the perfect atmosphere for a good time.  Needless to say, I was happy about the choice of venue for this event.

I arrived a few minutes late and only caught the last half of Mythrias’ (the local opener) set.  Mythrias has been tearing up the Cleveland/Akron scene with their particular brand of DIY melodeath since the release of their debut, Absolving the Treacherous, last year.  The band is always professional onstage and definitely worth giving a listen.  I couldn’t be more excited for my buddies in this band for getting the opportunity to open for such a huge event.  They definitely deserve it.

Next up was Tribulation.  This band gets a lot of hype and I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why.  Sure, they take showmanship seriously, but I really wish they’d take their music more seriously.  You can’t just dress up like a bunch of girls and make rock star poses and call yourself a band.  You actually have to write good songs.  Tribulation is ultimately more gimmick than anything else.  Although I get what they are aiming for in their sound, they don’t have enough oomph to pull off that whole metalized Slade/New York Dolls atmosphere.  They best thing about their set was the light show and their outfits.  The music itself was lacking.  A total snooze fest.

This is what happens when glam metal bands die and become zombies.

Next up was Skeletonwitch. A horde of flannel shirts surged to the stage.  Skeletonwitch has seen great success over the years amongst metal’s fence sitter fans, making them accessible to a larger audience.  I thought it was mere luck until I witnessed their set. Professionalism is an understatement for the band.  The band played crowd pleasers like and Beneath Dead Leaves and I am of Death.  Their sound was impeccable, almost identical to the quality of the album and their energy was high.  Did it make me a fan?  No but that’s just because there are other thrash bands that are more exciting than Skeletonwitch.  But at least now I get it.

High on Fire was up next.  They’re a band that many, more death metal oriented fans can’t really get into, but I have to say that Matt Pike is looking more like a middle-aged Lemmy every day and it’s fucking awesome. Riffage reigned supreme throughout the set and it’s really Matt Pike’s fault that my neck hurts.  They played mostly their higher energy songs and the set was lively and sounded great.  Though the majority of the bands took advantage of a high quality light show, High on Fire’s set was mostly dark which made for a really gritty atmosphere.  It was cool.  Snakes of the Divine and Luminiferous were particularly cool and memorable parts of the set but all in all Matt Pike put on a killer show as usual.

At last though, the moment everyone had been waiting for had arrived. Abbath was set to play. A true rock star, Abbath put on a killer show. It was like KISS if they were a black metal band. I couldn’t help but feel star struck. Abbath gave the fans what they wanted, playing five Immortal covers, including All Shall Fall, In My Kingdom Cold, and my favorite, Solarfall. It’s clear the man doesn’t take himself too seriously. He gave fans plenty of the crab walk and for that we were all grateful.


His showmanship was truly professional and the light show was arena worthy. Also, there was a pretty smashing pit during his set, which doesn’t always happen at black metal shows. I couldn’t help but get into it. Overall, the entire show was incredible and it’s something I’ll remember for years to come. That means something coming from a person who ends up at a show about once every week. If the Decibel Tour is coming to your hometown anytime soon, be sure to catch it. It’s well worth the money.



When Taake finally set US tour dates, the American black metal community let out a huge sigh of relief. Since the band had cancelled two tours prior to the recent tour, US black metallers felt lucky to even have them. I’ve noticed that happens a lot with foreign bands. It can be difficult to plan tours overseas, especially for relatively underground bands. When I saw a Cleveland date listed from the few, I made it a point to be there in hopes of witnessing a rare event in black metal history.

Fittingly, Cleveland saw snowfall on the day of the show. It was as though they brought Scandinavia with them. The streets were slicked with ice and the temperatures were frigid. Blackness fell upon Cleveland as the first acts began to play. The local act, Bulk and Skull, is worth mentioning. Featuring members of Inoculation, Bulk and Skull is an aggressive death/thrash band with blackened elements. The musicianship of the band allowed for technical components to be played in tandem with the thrashier riffs. The band may be young, but they’re definitely not green. They put on a great live show.

Touring with Taake, were Vattnet Viskar, an American raw post black metal band, as well as Young and in the Way, who despite having a super gay, metalcore sounding name, killed their set. A good half the crowd was there to see Young and in the Way and I can see why. Alternating between crust elements and trendy, American raw ambient black/death, similar to Adversarial, Young and in the Way introduced an entirely unique sound. There were even brief interludes of funeral doom in their sound. They would definitely be a tough act to follow, which is probably why it took Taake over an hour to set up after their set.

Thankfully, it was mostly worth the wait. Taake epically open their set with Nordbundet. Hoest’s live persona was fittingly majestic and we saw him lose himself in it often by posing like the photo below. In fact, your band is not kvlt unless your vocalist does this at least once in his set. Better that he does it all the damn time.

taake 5

Unfortunately, the middle of their set was a bit of snooze fest, with the band playing their more black and roll songs like Du villa villa Vestland and Orm. Thankfully, their set progressed in exciting way. Myr was particularly exciting as it featured a perfect execution of the ever popular banjo solo.

With a stripped down, early black metal style appearance, complete with smeared corpse paint and enough leather to attract dairy cows in heat, electrifying theatrics, and an unbelievable level of energy, Taake gave the audience far more than their money’s worth. Epic lighting made Hoest appear larger than life and the rest of the set reflected this uber grim, and untouchable persona.

taake 2

The crowd was ever perceptive forming a literal wall around the stage, completely captivated by the band. Some fans were even so dedicated as to wear corpsepaint to the show. Taake was ever receptive to the crowd and followed up their set with the first three parts of Hordalands Doedskvad and ended their set provocatively, playing their classic, Nattestid ser Porten Vid Part I to everyone’s approval and surprise. Overall, Taake put on a great set and I would urge anyone to catch Hoest in action next time he swings by your town. That is, of course, assuming that you can bear the cold.

Chemtrail X and Blood Coven @ The Outpost


Music festivals are always a blast and big concerts are an excuse to let it all hang out. The atmosphere I find most enjoyable, however, would have to be those small, intimate shows held at grimy little clubs with 20 or 30 of the band’s closest friends. It’s at these shows that mingling, trading and promoting takes the forefront and the scene gets “deep”.

This was precisely the atmosphere at the acclaimed Kent area metal club “The Outpost”, on Saturday 9/14/2013. A small, charming, dark and graffiti riddled club, The Outpost is an absolute haven for extreme metal. Met with the company of Radiatrix, Sanctify, Blood Coven and Chemtrail X, I prepared for an evening of beauteous gore.

The first band up was Canton’s newest and youngest thrash outfit, Radiatrix. Judging them solely on their youthfulness, I expected this band to be sloppy. Radiatrix proceeded to surprise me. These five skinny teenagers, thrashed harder than many of their contemporaries twice their age. Their sound was evocative of mid era Sacred Reich with a bit of Metallica’s charm thrown into to the mix for added effect. The band’s energy was high, with the guitarists windmilling and the vocalist interacting with the crowd. My only criticism would be that Chase Casterline’s vocals lacked power. While he has potential to become a great thrash vocalist I sensed he was a bit inhibited. Overall, this band writes catchy thrash riffs and given a few years to tighten their sound (they’re still very young) they can become something great in the arena of American thrash. Keep killin’ it Radiatrix!

Next up was Akron’s prog metal act, Sanctify. Radiatrix was going to be tough to follow and Sanctify couldn’t quite make the cut. The problem with many progressive metal bands is that their scope of what they can get away with is so great that many band’s tend to sound too busy, or all over the place. I wasn’t sure how to categorize Sanctify. The sound was confused, with pseudo progressive riffs, splashes of rock and roll and nu metal-like sing song breaks, the vocals were weak and their look was all but ordinary. Sanctify’s only saving grace was their flawless cover of the Megadeth classic, “Holy Wars….The Punishment Due”, but since the song was covered to a tee, with no unique Sanctify flavors thrown in, I’d say the credit still is owed to Dave Mustain. What was truly missing at this performance was unified energy. For much of the time the band just stood there only breaking attention to shout an ill-fitting “Hail Satan” into the crowd or something equally absurd. This band needs to commit to a sound and hone it before I’d recommend them, until then, they remain an opening act.

Finally it was the moment I’d been waiting for. Akron’s black/death hellions, Blood Coven prepared to hit the stage. Three black clad and tattooed brutes bearing armor, graced the stage and bludgeoned an unprepared crowd with an assault 100 times heavier than anything they’d seen thus far. Vocalist Daniel Saladin, prefaced the set with a warning to the crowd. “We’re Blood Coven, from Akron and you probably won’t like us”, he said. I laughed a little to myself and prepared to have my ears bludgeoned. Blood Coven fittingly opened with “Let Rome Burn”, the first track off their 2012 LP “Battle Cult Empire”. The aggression and intensity was beyond measure and their speed was electrifying. The band exhibited enthusiasm and high energy with their stage performance as well, headbanging throughout the set and occasionally executing choreographed and theatrical moves. It was a pleasure to witness the show. Blood Coven played everything from classics like “Godless and Wicked” and “793: The Fall of Lindisfarne” to flawlessly executed covers like Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon”. The set was a shining example of showmanship, musicianship and professionalism, as to be expected.

At last the end of the evening was nigh. Chemtrail X set to hit the stage. Blood Coven was going to be a hard act to follow but Chemtrail X was up to the challenge with their brand of nu-metal. Chemtrail X has a gimmick. Unlike so many other bands who simply settle to be satanic or humorously gory, Chemtrail X has decided to put the evil of the clandestine US government on the forefront and expose the criminals for what they really are. This is not a band you’ll see playing in sweatpants. They were dressed up like military officials and members of FEMA. It was actually pretty cool. The stage show was interesting as well with fog machines and the vocalist occasionally spouting off about conspiracy theories. Although this band doesn’t exactly play the sort of metal I listen to, for what they do, they do it well. Fans of Slipknot and Mushroomhead should take note of these guys, because they are actually more interesting than the aforementioned bands. They played tight and put on a good performance. This is definitely one of those bands that’s better live, but listen for yourself.

Overall this event was well worth the cover charge of a mere six bucks. The crowd was intimate and enthusiastic, the drinks were cheap and most importantly the bands played well. These are kinds of events metal is all about. Be sure to support your local scene for glimpse into the underground and the bowels of Hell. Happy Listening. Hails!

Macabre- 20th Anniversary of Sinister Slaughter Mini Tour


It has been twenty years since the legendary grindcore/murder metal, Chicago outfit, Macabre released their famed album, Sinister Slaughter, and the band decided to embark on a celebratory mini tour in its honor. Even though Macabre only played four shows on their tour, they still played Cleveland. They always play Cleveland. I am very lucky to live in a city so sublimely metal, a city where dark, graffiti ridden clubs mark every street corner and black clad drunkards and musicians are the daytime norm.

It was a “Sinister Sunday” indeed, when Corporate Death, Dennis the Menace and Nefarious invaded “The Birthplace of Rock and Roll”, for a very special, exclusive performance with local bands, Merciless Reign, Benighten Empire and Punching Moses. The crowd prepared for an evening of drinking, debauchery and mayhem.

The first band to hit the stage was Merciless Reign. I didn’t really know what to expect from this new Death/Thrash act. These guys were friends of mine, however, so I stood center stage, awaiting my first listen. What a surprise! What stood out about this band, was the sheer power emanating in their sound. Merciless Reign has a sound that requires none of the fancy, technical frills that have become so popular nowadays, with the influx of tech death on the rise. No sir, Merciless Reign has a presence and an intensity that will tear your fucking face off and they deliver this ambiance with simple, aggressive, thrash-y riffs, a bit of blackened repetition, blistering leads and paralyzing blast beats. Tracks like 17 Years of Hatred (Unleashed) are an epic and driving force to be reckoned with when played live. The energy that Merciless Reign achieves in their live performances is not quite met in their studio recordings, however. That is not to say that their demo is no good. It is very well done. But Merciless Reign bludgeons the hell out of a crowd live. I think this is because of the intensity that their drummer, Chris Krucker, packs into his live performances. He’s a wild man up there. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more from this band, both live and in the studio.

The next band up was Cleveland’s own Benighten Empire. Formed from the ashes of local deathcore outfit Evisceration and early Benighten Empire, which was formerly a Viking metal band, the current sound of the band is interesting, for lack of a better word. With the look of a deathcore band, the stage antics of a flashy, black metal band, the belligerent audience interactions of a thrash metal band, and a mix of everything from “core”, to the clean chanting of Viking metal, to the epic onslaught of black metal in their sound, Benighten Empire is utterly confused. I really wasn’t exactly sure what they were trying to accomplish onstage. It wasn’t as though they played badly, I simply wasn’t sure what they were playing or what they were doing with those upside crosses. It looked more like Justin Beiber participating in a black mass than Mayhem. Confusing, indeed. My friends and I have dubbed the band “Vikingcore”. However, Benighten Empire is not innovative enough to coin a new genre, their sound is simply immature. Given a few years, this band may hone their sound. They are still relatively new, forming only five years ago in 2008. Until then, I’d say, pass on this band.

Next up was hardcore punk act, Punching Moses. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this band other than that they felt a little out of place up there. Maybe it’s just me, but I hate when hardcore bands open for metal bands. Stick to your genre and go play at the Spitfire. The Foundry is for metal. Not only that, but their sound quality onstage wasn’t great and the feel of the band was very common. There was really nothing special going on onstage with Punching Moses. If you’re going to call yourself punk rock, be punk rock and spit on the fucking audience or something. Upon further research, I found this band was voted “Most Un-listenable” by The Cleveland Scene. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this band un-listenable, boring is a better way to describe them. Listen for yourself.

Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting for had arrived. Macabre was set to hit the stage. Being perfectionists, Macabre took quite some time to set up. They were well worth the wait, however. Macabre certainly did celebrate Sinister Slaughter, playing songs they haven’t played in years, like Ted Bundy song, Mary Bell, Montreal Massacre and Night Stalker. As usual, vocalist Corporate Death prefaced each song with an eerie description of a serial killer’s horrific antics and exuded a larger than life stage presence. The sound quality was great and the songs were played to grindcore perfection. The audience was pumped, singing along to the songs and moshing like crazy. And even though Corporate Death, Dennis the Menace and Nefarious may have a larger than life presence onstage, they are incredibly down to earth guys off stage, interacting with fans, signing occasional autographs and watching the opening bands play. My high expectations of the evening were more than met, when Macabre finally hit the stage. If you missed them this time around, never fear. Macabre will be playing again in December for the Holiday of Horrors show with Cardiac Arrest, Witchbanger and Elbow Deep. Catch them in Chicago at Reggie’s Rock Club on 12/26/2013. Happy Listening. Hails!

Embalmination Tour 2013

Embalmer has embarked on their western tour with Forged in Gore, and I (being a Cleveland native) was fortunate enough to catch the first show of the tour in their hometown with featured act, Rottrovore as well as local bands Blood Coven, Funeral Pyre and of course, Forged in Gore. The show was held at Lakewood’s only exclusively metal venue, The Foundry. The club is known for being one of many names (The HiFi, The Breakfast Club etc.) but has really come into it’s own as a spot for extreme metal. Slow to compete with punk/metal pub, Now That’s Class, The Foundry has respectfully become a haven for the underground in the past two years.

Blood Coven was the first band to hit the stage. They kicked off the evening nicely, playing classics, Warmaggedon and Feel My Steel, as well as showcasing their new track Age of Hell, to a lackluster crowd. Perhaps the highpoint of the set, for me at least, was when they played my request, Godless and Wicked.  The set was a bit sloppy in places, but not unforgivably so and the pure evil and aggression emanating from the stage, well made up for any slop in the performance.  Perhaps the only true disappointment was the utter disinterest, yielding from the crowd.  I can not, for the life of me, figure out why Blood Coven hasn’t become a greater force in the Cleveland metal scene.  Alas, I appeared to be the only person familiar with the material.  It was of no consequence to me however, I’ve been that person numerous times.  Blood Coven is truly a band worthy of recognition, so I give you Age of Hell!

Blood Coven’s ass kickery made way for black metal outfit Funeral Pyre. Funeral Pyre prefaced their first performance in twenty years with smells of acrid incense and arrant blackness. The crowd prepared for a celebration of evil. The enthusiasm of the crowd would only be met with sheer disappointment, as the set was an utter disaster. The drums were entirely too loud, drowning out sloppily played guitars.  Vocalist Brian Sekula, lazily fluttered about a goats skull as he shrieked classic tracks, Prosperity of Satan’s Reign and Celtic Sun.  Brief moments of harmony were quickly halted by clumsy mistakes, so attempts to get lost in the music or even discern one song from the next, were futile.  This band will definitely have to work together and practice more if they intend to gain a following in the underground live circuit.  Either that, or remain a studio band.

The show wouldn’t be a total bust, however, Forged in Gore hit the stage next to tear our faces off with the brutal death metal Cleveland has become known for.  Lightening fast riffing, blast beats and guttural “vokills” characterized the set.  Tongue in cheek requests for the band to slow down were met with a proverbial middle finger and even faster playing on the track Afterbirth Hors d’ oeuvre. Vocalist/bassist Brian Baxter engaged the crowd even further, inciting mosh pits and interacting with fans. Embalmer vocalist Paul Gorefiend performed guest vocals on a cover song to much approval from the crowd. Forged in Gore put on an incredible set. The band exudes professionalism and can most definitely anticipate a promising future.

We’d all anticipated Embalmer would go on next as initially Rottrevore was supposed to close the show but at that point in the evening everyone was inebriated and logistics mattered little.  Rottrovore went on next.  Excitement came over the crowd as Rottrevore set the perform their first live show in Cleveland in over 20 years.  Although I, personally am not an avid fan of the brutal death foursome, the band did not disappoint diehards, performing classic tracks like Unanimous Approval and Incompetent Secondary to perfection. Rottrovore closed their set with Conspiracised and fittingly the performance was met with “unanimous approval”.

The final band of the evening to play was of course, goregrind aficionados, Embalmer. An intoxicated Paul Gorefiend hit the stage, spewing vocals to utter perfection. You would never guess that he was wasted or that he’d injured his ribs at a Goatwhore show months back. Embalmer killed it, performing tracks from their must-have compilation from 1997, There Was Blood Everywhere, such as Rotten Body Fluids, the title track and my favorite, Bone Box. They also introduced new tracks from the soon to be released LP Apocalyptic Bloodshower. The new songs may have even exceeded the aggression found on earlier releases, which excites me for the release of Apocalyptic Bloodshower. The band closed with the classic, I am the Embalmer, paying homage to sole original member Roy Stewart. Embalmer did not fail to meet high expectations and “keep it fucking sick”!

Overall, the show was the definition of underground metal, with exorbitant demo trading, unofficial, laid back meet and greets, heavy promotion and intense gratitude for underground heads.  A rapturous evening of gore, dedicated to diehards.

Embalmer is currently touring the west coast with Forged in Gore. Dates are as follows…

6/8 Cleveland, OH
6/11 Kansas City, Missouri
6/14-6/15 Las Vegas Deathfest, Las Vegas, Nevada
6/17 Sacremento, California
6/18 Los Angeles, California
6/21 San Diego, California
6/22 Tempe, Arizona
6/25 Houston, Texas
6/26 Dallas, Texas
6/28-6/29 Gutfest, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Catch them in your town! Happy Listening! Hails!

Metal Alliance Tour 2013

I wouldn’t normally attend a “concert” at a big commercial venue, preferring instead the intimacy of small shows held at metal pubs and DIY clubs, however, there are those instances when the lineup is so impressive attendance is absolutely imperative. The Metal Alliance Tour was an absolute Thrash-stravaganza featuring Municipal Waste, Exodus and “big four” legends Anthrax on the same bill. Bloody Hell! To much dismay the concert was held at the House of Blues, a dreadfully disappointing venue for a metal show, equipped with waify cocktail waitresses, overly priced beverages and bathroom attendants. Upon entering my friend and I were wanded, stamped and purse searched only to enter the club and immediately be assaulted with the sight of a snack bar. Who the hell orders nachos at a metal show? Not only will they be ridiculously overpriced but they will inevitably taste like bland topping-less poo.

I got these crappy nachos and a beer and it only cost me 25 dollars
I got these crappy nachos and a beer and it only cost me 25 dollars

Go to Perkins after the show like the rest of the civilized world. Not only was there a snack bar, there were advertisements on the big screen and lotions in lieu of graffiti in the bathroom. It was commercial hell but with good purpose.

The first band up was Pasedena, California’s heavy/power act Holy Grail. With a solid live performance, flawless and intricate guitar work and a stereotypical “Power Metal” presence (complete with gauntlets and flowing manes) Holy Grail delivered the goods. The success of such bands as 3 inches of blood and Dragonforce has bought about a resurgence of Power Metal and rightfully so. Holy Grail is enjoying great success as a result. If you haven’t heard of Holy Grail before they are definitely worth giving a second look. Check out their latest full length release from Nuclear Blast, Ride the Void for good, old-fashioned, Maiden-esque Power Metal!

Holy Grail kicked ass. Unfortunately for me the next band on the bill was not what I expected. I was under the impression that High on Fire was supposed to be playing, not because I dreamt it up or am delusional but because of this misleading “official” tour poster…

imagesCAGTTXJ5Dirty liars, the next band up were Metalcore veterans Shadows Fall. Gahhhh! Why is it that whenever you go to see a quintessential metal band there’s always at least one “core” opener that you have to endure, or in my case ignore while perusing through the merchandise tables, smoking cigarettes, and making small talk with the opening bands, until the set is over? James explained to me that the reason High on Fire was not playing was because they had to drop the Metal Alliance Tour to finish their own European tour. While completely understandable, it did not make the reality of Shadows Fall onstage disappear. I kept pondering what horrors might reside clandestine within Brian Fair’s ridiculous dreadlocks.

Just some birds live here. Not just any birds, endangered birds.
Some birds live here. But not just any birds, angry birds.

Tough guy chest pounding and squatting, three cord riffs played in drop D, and poorly delivered screams followed by whiny, sing-song choruses about relationships and politics (uhgg just sing about the devil) are the backbone of Shadows Fall’s distinctive sound. Still the band never fails to deliver a good performance to their audience, which is most likely the reason they’ve achieved such great commercial success. Here is a live version of the title track from the latest release Fire from the Sky for anyone interested.

Just like all good things must come to an end, so too the bad. Municipal Waste was scheduled to hit the stage next and I was not going to miss it. One of the better New Wave Thrash/Crossover bands among many, The Waste put on a great performance, playing everything from classics like The Terror Shark, Headbanger Face-Rip and Beer Pressure, to fierce new tracks like You’re Cut Off. Rowdy and tongue in cheek, Waste vocalist Tony Foresta joked with the audience and ingeniously fired up the crowd, having expectations of inciting no less than a full on heavy metal vomit party. The Waste generated a full-fledged pit with crowd surfing, blood and sweat. Beautiful. Witness for yourself the metal party prowess and masterful musicianship of Municipal Waste as they perform the classic, Mind Eraser.

While Municipal Waste did not fail to “Fuck Me Up!” things would only get better from here as Exodus would soon hit the stage to bludgeon the crowd with pure Bay Area Thrash. A sea of black, denim and leather-clad Hellions chanted EXODUS! at the top of their lungs in anticipation. The lights grew dim and the melodic acoustic intro to The Ballad of Leonard and Charles began emanating from the loud speakers. The crowd’s hunger grew as Gary Holt hit the stage, shredding to perfection. The set list was ingenious, including songs such as Fabulous Disaster and Blackened and no one was left wanting for Paul Baloff as Rob Dukes flawlessly belted out classics, Lesson in Violence and (with the help of Holy Grail vocalist, James Paul Luna) Bonded by Blood.

Do not fuck with this man!
Do not fuck with this man!

Exodus further engaged the audience with theatrics as a blast of confetti spewed from the stage at the end of Bonded by Blood classic, Strike of the Beast. Forming huge circle pits and crowd surfing, the audience was riled up. The band fittingly concluded their set with Good Riddance from the 2010 release Exhibit B: The Human Condition. The conclusion was followed by the band’s gifting of guitar picks, drum sticks and set lists to the crowd. I managed to procure a set list. A brilliant performance as usual from thrash metal legends Exodus. Here is a glimpse of what you may have missed. The band is in San Francisco performing my favorite Exodus song Lesson in Violence.

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The climax of the evening, Anthrax was set to hit the stage. Performing the essential Anthrax album Among the Living in its entirety, Joey Belladonna took the stage belting out the title track to perfection. Before they could begin Caught in the Mosh, Frank Bello lost sound and Scott Ian roared with conviction “You guys are too metal for this club!”. Damn straight! The crowd cheered in unanimous agreement. Anthrax really knows how to get a crowd going and aside from the fact that Scott Ian has sold his soul to VH1 (Satan is pissed) good showmanship, impeccable performance and catchy anthemic licks have marked Anthrax’s success.

Playing side one from the 1987 LP, then taking a short break from the album to play AC/DC cover TNT and Grammy nominated track I’m Alive, the band broke up the set nicely. Joey beckoned audience participation during the classic track Indians and everyone went wild. As a precursor to the encores Joey handed out slices of pizza to crowd. I’m sure whoever snatched those up enjoyed the most metal slice of pizza they will ever eat. He then proceeded to raise him arms and shout “CAN YOU DIG IT!”, a quote from the cult classic The Warriors. I felt the urge to shout back “CAN YOU COUNT SUCKAS!” but remained silent in the realization that I may have been the only one picking up on the reference.

I can dig it Joey. Yes I can!
I can dig it Joey. Yes I can!

Scott Ian asked for a “moment of rage” in honor of the victims of the tragedy in Boston before the second encore. The whole crowd roared, enraged. The band concluded the set with I am the Man to everyone’s approval and began tossing guitar picks and drum sticks into an enthusiastic crowd. They ended the show by bowing in appreciation of proverbial diehard fans. To give you a snip-it of what you might have missed here is Anthrax performing Indians in Anaheim, California.

Overall The Metal Alliance Tour is worth catching if the metal masters haven’t already invaded your town. It dripped with showmanship, flawless performances, circle pits and Thrash Metal Hell. It’s a must see event for thrashers, well worth the 40 dollar cover charge. Hails!