Thursday, October 29, 2009

Upcoming Shows in 2010!

SwordLord Productions posted a message its Twitter page cryptically revealing some shows planned for 2010, with the hint to "unscramble for a sneak peak! RIMLAP RAFE, ROTREAK, ACEPI, ONSTAA CARCATI". This translates to Primal Fear, Kreator, Epica, and Sonata Arctica - looks like some great shows will be announced soon!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Crinn Announces Local Shows

Nuclear Blast recording artist and St. Paul natives The Crinn have announced three local shows as they gear up the release of their debut album, Dreaming Saturn, in January. Tuesday, October 27 they play at Big V's in St. Paul, Sunday, November 15 they appear at The Triple Rock in Minneapolis, and Saturday, December 5 they play at The Rock in Maplewood. Additional details about these shows are in the calendar listings.

Fu Manchu Show Details Change

A couple things have changed with Fu Manchu's upcoming show at The Triple Rock in Minneapolis this Friday, October 30. Previously announced openers ASG and It's Casual are now off the bill, and have been replaced by Bastard Saint. The show time has also been moved back to 10 pm due to an early show at the venue from Motion City Soundtrack.

God Dethroned Concert Review

God Dethroned, Abigail Williams, Woe Of Tyrants, Augury, Sangre Mal
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Station 4, St. Paul, MN


I’ve found it increasingly difficult to get out to venues for shows that start so early (this one started at 7:00), so I arrived at Station 4 soon after Abigail Williams had taken the stage. Not being familiar with this American symphonic black metal band, I was suitably impressed by their performance. Fans of Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, and their ilk would take a liking to Abigail Williams. They’re still out on the road supporting late 2008’s In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns album, so hopefully new material will be forthcoming in 2010. Abigail Williams is certainly a band to keep an eye on, and they’ll back through Station 4 on January 23 with Nile, Immolation, Krisiun, and Dreaming Dead.


God Dethroned stormed on to the stage with “Under A Darkening Sky”, and proceeded through a 60 minute set that spanned their last six albums since 1999. This Dutch death metal band has been absent from the US for a couple years and the timing of their current tour couldn’t be better, as they are out promoting the phenomenal Passiondale release. God Dethroned is sporting two new members that joined after the recording of Passiondale, Mike van der Plicht (drums) and Susan Gerl (guitar), and fit in well as the band sounded tight. By the time Passiondale’s “No Man’s Land” was played almost midway into the set, selections from The Toxic Touch (“Hating Life”), The Lair Of The White Worm (“Nihilism”), Into The Lungs Of Hell (“Soul Sweeper”), and Bloody Blasphemy (“Serpent King”) had already been covered. The highpoint of the set was “Poison Fog”, the sweeping epic from Passiondale. Founding vocalist and guitarist Henri Sattler handled the clean vocals with ease. The final selection from Passiondale included “Drowning in Mud”, and the remainder of the set was rounded out by “The Execution Protocol”, “The Warcult”, and “Boiling Blood”. The band returned to play “The Lair Of The White Worm” for the encore, and then hung out on stage to talk with fans. Overall, the set was well executed and one would never know that half the band is new. The new material from Passiondale blended into the set well alongside songs from older albums. Poor turnout was the only disappointment of the night, but the band seemed to take it in stride by playing an outstanding show.


Click on the photos to view more pictures of God Dethroned (16) and Abigail Williams (5).



Friday, October 23, 2009

Amazing Metal Show Deal!!

SwordLord Productions has announced "an exclusive metal stimulus package for this shitty economy": The November to Dismember Metal Pass. $50 will get you: (1) a pass for admission to four shows in November, (2) early admission and priority seating, (3) meet and greet opportunities, (4) drink specials, and (5) discounts on other SwordLord Productions shows. This special pass will give you admission and perks for the following four metal shows, all taking place at Station 4 in St. Paul: (1) Heathenfest: Eluveitie, Belphegor, Alestorm, Vreid, Kivimetsan Druidi, Monday, November 9, (2) Monsters of Death: Vader, Decrepit Birth, The Amenta, Warbringer, Success Will Write Apocalypse Across The Sky, Augury, Sunday, November 15, (3) Dying Fetus, The Faceless, Beneath The Massacre, Vital Remains, Annotations Of An Autopsy, Friday, November 20, and (4) Ensiferum, Hypocrisy, Ex Deo, Blackguard, Cold Colours, False Oath, Saturday, November 28.


That's four shows and 22 bands for only $50! The November to Dismember Metal Pass can be purchased at Station 4 or through the SwordLord Productions website.


Gallagher and Metallagher: Together At Last!

Okay, comedian and king of bad puns Gallagher may not be metal, but his recently announced performance at Station 4 in St. Paul on Thursday, December 10 will be a special one. That's because the ultimate tribute fusion band, Metallagher, will be supporting the legendary comedian. That's right - a Metallica tribute band with a Gallagher impersonator as frontman, complete with fruit-smashing routines and lame jokes. According to Metallagher's Myspace page, Gallagher will meet with fans from 8–9 and perform at 9, and Metallagher will take the stage at 11. Special "Splatter Zone" seats are being sold, and the seats will be removed after Gallagher is done.

Threat Signal Replaces Daath on Epica Tour

Nuclear Blast recording artist Threat Signal will replace Daath as main support to Epica on the Dutch symphonic metal band's tour early next year. No official explanation for why Daath has been replaced has been issued. Threat Signal's sophomore album, Vigilance, was released last month, and this will be the band's first tour in support of this release.


Epica will be performing at Station 4 in St. Paul on Saturday, February 6. Support will come from Threat Signal, Blackguard, Gracepoint, and Dread Veil. Note: Posted below is the original, uncorrected flyer.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Steelheart Concert Announcement

Enough with the cancellations, here's some good news. Steelheart has announced that they will be performing at Biff's Sports Bar in Spring Lake Park on November 6 in support of their self-released Good 2B Alive album.


Def Leppard Concert Canceled

There's more unfortunate cancellation news. Def Leppard announced on its website today that their entire upcoming North American tour has been cancelled "due to unforeseen personal matters". The band was scheduled to play at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul on November 6 with special guests Cheap Trick and Man Raze.

Hydrogyn Canceled Tonight!

Hydrogyn has cancelled their appearance at the Primetime Sports Bar in Burnsville tonight. The is no news of this on either Hydrogyn's Myspace or Primetime's webpages, but I confirmed this by calling the venue. No reason for the cancellation was given. Presumably this means that tomorrow's Hydrogyn gig at Primetime is also cancelled.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nile Guitarist Karl Sanders Offers Private Lessons Before St. Paul Show

Karl Sanders, guitarist and founder of Nile, is offering private guitar lessons at all stops on their upcoming US tour, including a performance on Saturday, January 23 at Station 4 in St. Paul. Lessons cost $100 per hour, and will take place at Station 4 before the show. The cost of the lesson also includes admission to the show and the opportunity to watch Nile's soundcheck. Additional details, including reservation information, can be found on Nile's Myspace page.


Arch Enemy Show Announcement

Century Media recording artist Arch Enemy has announced the Tyrants of Evil tour in support of their recently released album The Root Of All Evil, which will include a stop at The Rock in Maplewood on Saturday, January 30. Support bands for the tour are Exodus, Arsis, and Mutiny Within. Further details will be added to the calendar entry as they become available.

Use God Dethroned Ticket Stub For Heathenfest Savings

It was announced by SwordLord Productions at the God Dethroned concert that if you bring your God Dethroned ticket stub to Heathenfest you will receive $5 off admission at the door. Heathenfest will take place Monday, November 9 at Station 4 in St. Paul, and will feature Eluveitie, Belphegor, Alestorm, Vreid, and Kivimetsan Druidi.


Don Decker Dead At Age 41

The passing of Don Decker, 41, singer of Minneapolis band Anal Blast, was reported on Blabbermouth yesterday. Don was a constant figure on the Twin Cities metal scene for many years, and promoted countless shows. I never met Don, but I would encourage everyone to read the blog post at the Myspace page of SwordLord Productions to learn more about Don.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Save $5 At The Door For God Dethroned

Head on over to the Myspace page of SwordLord Productions (http://www.myspace.com/swordlord) to see how you can save $5 off admission at the door for God Dethroned at Station 4 in St. Paul tomorrow, Saturday, October 10.


Skindred Concert Announcement

Bieler Bros. recording artist Skindred has confirmed the initial dates for a U.S. tour in support of their newly-released third album, Shark Bites And Dog Fights. These first 10 dates include a stop at The Rock in Maplewood on December 10. Supporting Skindred is E1 recording artist A New Revolution.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

God Dethroned Album Review


God Dethroned - Passiondale
Metal Blade, 2009

9/10


Hailing from The Netherlands, God Dethroned are back with their 9th album, and what a monster it is. This long-running death metal outfit has put me off in the past, but reports of creeping variety and progressive elements into their sound had me intrigued enough to give Passiondale a chance. Lyrically, Passiondale is concept record based upon the Belgian village of Passiondale, and the surrounding area which was the site of massive slaughter during World War I. Musically, the album blasts through enough traditional-sounding death metal to keep the purists happy, but bouts of melody and keyboards are thrown in to make things interesting. The production is crystal clear yet massive, giving the record a clean, heavy sound that enables the sonic nuances to be heard. “Under A Darkening Sky” and “No Man’s Land” open the album with tight, brutal death metal. Things take an interesting turn with “Poison Fog”, a six minute opus that breaks down into two keyboard-drenched mid-sections with clean vocals. This is followed by “Drowning In Mud” and the title track, both of which incorporate slower, groovier structures that stand well beside their faster sections. The accelerator is pushed to the floor again for “No Survivors”, which unexpectedly includes a slow, passionately sung interlude mid-song. Keyboards accentuate the somber, pounding introduction of “Behind Enemy Lines” before exploding into chaotic riffage. “Fallen Empires” breathes like a final, desperate gasp before the album closes with the epic instrumental “Artifacts Of The Great War”. Passiondale exceeds the expectations of what a death metal album should be, and God Dethroned have delivered a punishing and thought-provoking album. This will easily rank as one of the top albums of the year and should be immediately added to the collection of diehard and casual death metal fans alike.


God Dethroned will be performing at Station 4 in St. Paul on Saturday, October 10. Support will come from Abigail Williams, Woe Of Tyrants, Augury, and Sangre Mal.

Job For A Cowboy Cancels Minneapolis Date

Metal Blade recording artist Job For A Cowboy announced via their Myspace page today that they have dropped off the remaining dates of their tour supporting Gwar with The Red Chord due to a family emergency. Job For A Cowboy will therefore not be appearing with Gwar at First Avenue on Monday, October 12. The band initially cancelled shows from October 2–5 last week before deciding to officially leave the tour today.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Baroness Album Review


Baroness – Blue Record
Relapse, 2009

5/10


Georgia’s Baroness walk a fine line between noisy alternative rock and metal that fails more often than it succeeds. Blue Record strikes me as an album that will be a critic’s favorite at certain glossy rock magazines in an attempt to maintain indie credibility. Sorry, but this heavy garage rock just doesn’t stand up to a metal fan’s taste. “The Sweetest Curse” and “Jake Leg” are bruisers that steamroll a wide path before the acoustic interlude of “Steel That Sleeps The Eye”. “Swollen And Halo” next takes the album in a spacey, loose direction, and the instrumental “Ogeechee Hymna” loses its pace in a wall of guitar distortion. Things finally pick up in the second half with more melodic, faster paced songs like “A Horse Called Golgotha”, “O’er Hell And Hide”, and “War, Wisdom And Rhyme”. This trio of songs can’t, however, recover the thick morass of sludge that comprises the rest of the album. Another short acoustic instrumental opens into “The Gnashing”, slow-building rocker, before closing out with the dirge-like “Bullhead’s Lament”. I don’t know, this sort of crushing, cerebral noise just doesn’t get me excited. The vocals are gruff, monotonal, and hard to listen to, and the open, unrestrained drum sound makes my head hurt. Alternative rock fans will likely appreciate Blue Record more, but most metalheads will want to steer clear of this.

Baroness will be appearing at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Friday, November 27. Support will come from Earthless and U.S. Christmas.

Dying Fetus And The Faceless Tour Announced

Dying Fetus and The Faceless announced a co-headling tour, The Planetary Depravity Tour, that will make a stop in St. Paul at Station 4 on Friday, November 20. Supporting bands are Beneath The Massacre, Vital Remains, and Annotations Of An Autopsy. Further details will be added to the calendar as they become available.

Stryper Live Tonight At Epic


A reminder that Stryper will be playing tonight at Epic in downtown Minneapolis. This is their 25th anniversary tour and features all the original members. There is no opening band and Stryper will perform two sets of material, one featuring their new album Murder By Pride and the other featuring all their hits. If you caught Michael Sweet singing with Boston last summer, you know that this guy can still sing with the best! This is an all ages show; the doors open at 7:00 and the show starts at 7:30. Follow SwordLord Productions on Twitter (http://twitter.com/TheSwordLord) to save $5 off admission at the door.


Gunfire 76 Album Review


Gunfire 76 – Casualties & Tragedies
Wednesday 13, 2009

7/10


Shock rock solo artist and former Murderdolls frontman Wednesday 13 has collaborated with guitarist Todd Youth (Danzig, D-Generation, The Chelsea Smiles) to step out of his usual fare with a punk rock record. By punk rock, I mean the rock and roll based sounds of Social Distortion and D-Generation, not the pop-punk of Blink 182, Green Day, and their ilk. This is dirty, street rock and roll. The songs are simple, straight-ahead rockers with enough angst to give the album an edge. Most songs are mid-tempo rompers, with “Rocket To Nowhere” and “Nothing’s All I Need” being good representation of the album. “Something For The Suffering” and “Los Angel-Less” slow things down a bit without loss of focus on the album’s overall sound. Wednesday 13’s voice is also more varied and interesting than some of his past work. At his angriest his voice here reminds me of Kory Clarke from Warrior Soul, while shades of Alice Cooper creep in on the slower numbers. If you like old-school punk rock (with the emphasis on rock), then Casualties & Tragedies is an album that shouldn’t disappoint you. Wednesday 13 and Todd Youth have succeeded in crafting an album that achieves their objectives in bringing back the vibe of The Stooges, New York Dolls, and Deadboys. I admire Wednesday 13 for trying something different and have newfound respect for how well he has implemented this vision.


Gunfire 76 will be appearing at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Monday, November 16. Support will come from Bullets And Octane, The Becoming, and They Live.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Powerman 5000 Album Review


Powerman 5000 – Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere
Mighty Loud/Fontana, 2009

8/10


The last ten years have certainly been rough for Powerman 5000, with constant lineup changes and commercial highs and lows. Credit must be given to band leader and frontman Spider One (Michael Cummings) for persevering under conditions that would cause most bands to fold. The band’s sixth full length album, Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere, finds them continuing the industrial metal formula that helped make 1999’s Tonight The Stars Revolt! release a huge success. Spider One still has the remarkable talent of writing catchy, memorable songs that beg for your attention. After a short introduction track, “Show Me What You’ve Got” kicks the album off in high gear and is quickly followed by the bouncing, infectious “Super Villain” and “V Is For Vampire”. Another trio of songs, “Do Your Thing”, “Time Bomb”, and “Make Us Insane”, don’t quite rise the level of those aforementioned but fit well with the style and pace of the record. The only letdowns are the title track and closer “Horror Show”, which plod along and distract from the album’s high energy feel. So what we’ve got is undeniably enjoyable album with only a couple below average tracks. Frankly, the quality of this record took me by surprise as I was one of many long ago wrote Powerman 5000 off. Fans of Static-X, Rob Zombie, and Dope would take a quick liking to Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere and the album is highly recommended for those who enjoy melodic industrial metal. Really, the only reason I can think of as to why radio shuns Powerman 5000 these days is the lack of a major label marketing budget. The band continues to deliver the goods, and they have succeeded in releasing an outstanding album.

Powerman 5000 will be appearing at The Rock in Maplewood on Monday, October 26. Support will come from No Conviction, Nuisance, and Tepetricy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dethklok Album/DVD Review


Dethklok – Metalocalypse: Dethalbum II (Deluxe Edition)
Williams Street, 2009

9/10


The Dethklock and Metalocalypse phenomenon continues on. It truly is remarkable how a cartoon about a death metal band spawned a crossover-hit TV show and a touring machine that resulted in 2007’s Metalocalypse: The Dethalbum laying claim to being the top-selling death metal of all time. With the release of Dethalbum II, the question is whether Dethklok is a legitimate act to be taken seriously or whether it is an interesting novelty. Dethklok, of course, is essentially a one-man band as Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small handles all vocals and instruments except drums, for which he’s again enlisted drummer extraordinaire Gene Hoglan. I’m happy to say that Dethklok has delivered an album that is better and more satisfying than the debut album. The songs are more diverse, incredibly heavy, and are not simply extended soundtrack-style musings. Differences between this and the debut album are relatively minor, the most notable being the occasional use of non-intrusive keyboards and more screaming vocals. Songs range from the blinding fast staccato of songs like “Dethsupport” and “The Gears” to the slower, mid-tempo gallops of “Burn The Earth” and “Bloodlines”. Some of my favorites are “Comet Song”, “The Cyborg Slayers”, with it’s crunching riffage, and “Laser Cannon Deth Sentence”, which features the coolest stuttering chorus since “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman–Turner Overdrive. Even though the album is over 50 minutes long, the songs don’t tire and listening to the whole record is a pleasure. The songs are varied enough to hold interest, yet don’t stray far off the track. It may be a little depressing that currently the most popular death metal band is a cartoon, but Dethalbum II proves that Dethklok is for real and it demands your attention.

The Deluxe Edition features an additional, nearly hour-long DVD of the cartoon videos that played behind the band on their 2008 tour. These are not live versions of songs, and all of the songs were previously released on the debut album. Nevertheless, watching the videos is a lot of fun and it’s nice that these are being made available to fans. The Deluxe Edition is only a couple bucks more than the standard edition, so this is well-worth the minimal extra expense. The only downside is that apparently the Deluxe Edition is only available in physical format, and the DVD material is not available in a downloadable format from online retailers.

Dethklok will be appearing alongside co-headliners Mastodon at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul on Friday, October 16. Support will come from Converge and High On Fire.

The Death Of First Avenue?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune published an article yesterday, First Ave. (The Club) Vs. 1st Avenue (The Street), that describes upcoming changes to the streets in downtown Minneapolis that could very well spell the demise of the legendary First Avenue & 7th Street Entry clubs. All the details can be found in the article, but the upshot is that changes to the lanes on First Avenue (the street) will result in elimination of the metered parking spots that bands use to unload gear and park vehicles. Starting next week, bands will have to park on 8th Street and haul gear from over a block away – not a fun prospect in the bitter winter months. Given the number of quality clubs in the area for bands to play, it’s hard to see how bands would choose to play First Ave. It’s really disappointing that the City Council wasn’t willing to work out a compromise. The arrogance and insensitivity of City Council Member Lisa Goodman, as quoted in the article, is astounding. Writer Chris Riemenschneider correctly ponders, “For those who prefer ‘Tartuffe’ to Gwar, do you think the city would ever permanently block the Guthrie [Theater’s] loading dock and make its actors walk through the snow?”

First Ave. is a landmark club, popularized in urban lore as the club featured in Purple Rain. If First Ave. were to close after this traffic change, this would attract national attention and shame our local music scene. First Ave. is one of my favorite places to see club shows, and the number of metal bands that have played there is incalculable. There’s certainly plenty of other decent clubs in the area for metal bands to play if First Ave. were to shutter its doors, so I don’t think closure would decrease the number of touring bands booked in the Twin Cities. Rather, this would shift some shows to other clubs. The clearest beneficiary from this would be Epic (the old Quest Club), a horrible, sightline-obstructed club down the street that has lately been dabbling in metal shows. Let’s all hope that the City Council develops some reason and works with First Ave. to come to a sensible solution for the club.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Kylesa Album Review


Kylesa – Static Tensions
Prosthetic, 2009

8/10


Kylesa has always been at the forefront of heavy rock experimentation, and their fourth album, Static Tensions, continues to forge new ground. Comparisons are difficult to make, but here’s my attempt – the tribalism of Neurosis and Grotus, the intensity of Clutch, and the slow, heavy stomp of Sleep. Kylesa now features two drummers, and songs like “Scapegoat” and “Unknown Awareness” utilize the percussive flexibility for maximum impact. The spaced out tone of the guitars on several tracks (“Almost Lost” and “Perception”, for example) provides sonic respite from the dense wall of sound that threatens to suffocate the listener. Static Tensions is greatly helped by an outstanding production in which bass levels are held in check. The weakest aspect of the album is the monotone vocal delivery, a dry, parched scream that becomes tiring on the ears. Kylesa offers a daring alternative to much of the alternative/sludge/stoner rock scene. Adventurous readers will want to give this band a listen and get out to one of the shows on their current headlining tour.

Kylesa will be appearing at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Sunday, October 11. Support will come from Saviours and Red Fang.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

SwordLord Productions on Twitter - Save on Shows!

Local promoter SwordLord Productions is now offering discounts to concerts to followers on Twitter. The first Twitter promotion is $5 off of the $25 admission price at the door for Stryper on Wednesday, October 7 at Epic in Minneapolis. Visit http://twitter.com/TheSwordLord for more details and to become a follower.

ASG EP Review

ASG – Low Country EP
Volcom Entertainment, 2009

6/10

Originally released as a split CD with Blacktusk, North Carolina’s ASG offer up four newly recorded songs as a stopgap release following last year’s Win Us Over album. This is a groovy little release that provides an ample introduction for those not familiar with ASG. Here you’ll find elements of heavy stoner rock and sludge-like riffs capped with clear, mid-range vocals. Opener “Mourning Of The Earth” features a crunchy guitar sound that reminded me of COC’s slower works. The uptempo “Not My Kind” brings things back to life after the depressing morass of “Young And Innocent”. “Black Magic” closes the EP out on an interesting note, as it’s the only song to features harmonized vocals and yet left me wanting more. It’s hard to say that any EP is an essential purchase, but Low Country does it job in giving new listeners a taste of ASG’s sound. If your curiosity has been aroused that it’s probably worth your while to check this band out.







ASG will be supporting Fu Manchu with It’s Casual at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Friday, October 30.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Augury Album Review


Augury – Fragmentary Evidence
Nuclear Blast, 2009

7/10

Augury is currently being hailed as the new god of progressive, technical death metal, so does reality match with the hype? Well, not quite. Fragmentary Evidence certainly is a quality album, but I’m hesitant to heap lavish praise upon it. “Aetheral” is an average track to open the album, but this is followed by “Simian Cattle” and “Orphans Of Living”, two impressive tracks that feature a variety of musical and vocal stylings. Things go downhill from here, as the constant mix of thrash riffage, bass-neck fret-walking, and acoustic interludes begin to blur. By the time the 11 minute-long closer “Oversee The Birth” come around I’ve lost track of what I’ve heard. There’s a lot to be impressed by on Fragmentary Evidence, however – flawless, technical playing, thoughtful songcraft, and imaginative arrangements. This only carries the album so far, and what’s lacking are memorable songs and riffs. My other general complaint is that the vocals, especially the growling, are often buried in the mix. Despite the misgivings, Augury have written a good album that show they have a lot of promise. Augury don’t yet rise to elite status in the death metal genre, but they will undoubtedly draw lots of new fans in with this release.






Augury has two upcoming shows in St. Paul at Station 4. October 10, they will be supporting God Dethroned alongside Abigail Williams, Woe Of Tyrants, and Sangre Mal. They will be back on November 15 supporting Vader with Decrepit Birth, The Amenta, Warbringer, and Success Will Write Apocalypse Across The Sky.

3 Inches Of Blood Show Announcement

Ticketmaster has just announced the appearance of Century Media recording artist 3 Inches Of Blood at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis on Friday, November 20. 3 Inches Of Blood is promoting the Here Waits Thy Doom album, released last month. Support will come from Saviours and Holy Grail.