Friday, December 17, 2010

Uriah Heep and Crow
Friday, November 5, 2010
Medina Entertainment Center, Medina, MN
Watch Uriah Heep perform “Gypsy”.
Tonight’s concert was a special one, as it was only one of three shows the legendary Uriah Heep played on a short US jaunt (the other shows being in Chicago and Milwaukee). It had been about 10 years since the band was last in the States and expectations were high. I walked in about midway through Crow’s lengthy hour-plus opening set. Crow is a legendary cult band in their own right, and they were inducted into the Mid-America Music Hall of Fall in 2005. This Minneapolis band is buried in the annals of heavy metal history since their Top 10 US single from 1969, “Evil Woman (Don’t Play Your Games With Me)”, was covered by none other than Black Sabbath in 1970 and released as their first single prior to inclusion on the European version of Black Sabbath. Crow’s associations with metal end there, however, as their boogie rock sounds owes more to blues music than hard rock. They clearly maintain a hardcore fan base, and crowd roared their approval for familiar songs such as “Cottage Cheese” and “Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie (On The King Of Rock & Roll)”. While not the type of music I would choose to listen to, you have to have respect for this legendary band and they were a great choice to open the show.
Watch Uriah Heep perform “Look At Yourself”.
This was the first opportunity I’ve had to see Uriah Heep, so I was immediately blown away as guitarist Mick Box and his current incarnation of the band tore the roof off as they launched into “Wake The Sleeper”. Having released over 20 albums, it would be impossible for Heep to play everyone’s favorites, so the band responded by performing a set with many new songs and mixture of hits and obscure, deep cuts. Songs from 2008’s Wake The Sleeper (including “Overload” and “Book Of Lies”) and the two new songs from 2009’s Celebration dominated the early part of the show, with “Return To Fantasy” and “Bird Of Prey” mixed in to placate old fans. About halfway through the show, the classic rock radio staple “Stealin’” brought the entire place to its feet, and from there the emphasis was on older material. Demons And Wizards was given its due with “Rainbow Demon” and “The Wizard” before surprising everyone with “Free ‘N’ Easy” from the overlooked Innocent Victim album. The show then reached its climax with amazing, heavy versions of the old classics “Gypsy” and “Look At Yourself” that stomped all over the original recordings. Wake The Sleeper was revisited with “Angels Walk With You” and “Shadow” before “July Morning” (from 1971’s Look At Yourself) and one of the earliest metal anthems, “Easy Livin’”, closed the set. Everyone wanted more, and the band returned to play “Sunrise” and “Lady In Black” for the encore.
Click photo to see more pictures of Uriah Heep (17).
Uriah Heep simply put on an amazing show, and proved that are they are more than capable of rocking harder than ever. Every band member sounded at the top of his game, and everyone was having fun on stage. The band announced that they are working on lining up more US shows for 2011, so do not miss any chance to have the see these legends!
Look for an audio download of nearly the entire Uriah Heep set soon!

Return To Action

Alright, it's unfortunately been a while since I've had the opportunity to update the site, but there's a lot to be coming your way soon!
First, if you live here in the Twin Cities area, get out to Station 4 in St. Paul to support a huge lineup of great local bands for local promoter The SwordLord's Christmas show. DAWN OF VALOR and AVIAN are co-headlining the bill, with NOBLE BEAST, ETERNAL VOYAGER, KINGS, HOLLOWSTONE, and PLAGUED INSANITY rounding it out. Note that this is Avian's first show with their new lead singer, Brian Hollenbeck, who took over from Lance King earlier this year. You can read my review of the new Avian EP featuring Brian, The Path, here. Throughout the night there will be all kinds of giveaways and drink specials, so don't miss this!
The next forthcoming feature will be a review of the legendary Uriah Heep's show last month in Medina. Other concert reviews on the way are Circle II Circle/32 Headshots in Fridley, and Forbidden/Evile/Gamma Bomb in St. Paul. I've got loads of pictures and videos to go with these.
A slew of album and demo review are also coming, including ones from Hollowstone, 32 Headshots, and many, many others.
I appreciate your loyalty and patience during the stretch of inactivity, so keep your eyes peeled for a lot of interesting stuff in the near future!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

PAUL DI'ANNO Expands US Tour

Original Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di'Anno has expanded the previously released American tour dates for December and January. These promise to be special shows, as he will be playing the entire self-titled debut album of Iron Maiden in its entirety, plus songs from Killers. Let's hope the St. Paul show actually happens this time; Di'Anno canceled his last scheduled date at Station 4 on February 28 the day of the show without any explanation. The current list of Paul Di'Anno is listed below, and support will come his backing band Icarus Witch.
December 20 - Foxborough, MA, Showcase Live
December 21 - New York, NY, B.B. King's Blues Club
December 22 - Asbury Park, NJ, Stone Pony
December 23 - Baltimore, MD, Bourbon Street
December 24 - Cleveland, OH, Agora Ballroom
December 25 - Chicago, IL, Reggie's Rock Club
December 26 - St. Paul, MN, Station 4
December 30 - Seattle, WA, El Corazon
January 1 - Hollywood, CA, Key Club
January 6 - Santa Ana, CA, Galaxy Theater
January 7 - Ventura, CA, Ventura Theater
January 8 - Ramona, CA, Ramona Mainstage

JAMES LABRIE Cancels North American Tour

To wrap up the progressive metal-themed concert announcements, we now have some bad news. Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie has canceled his upcoming North American tour for November and December. The announcement was made due to delays in securing US work visas for a couple of the band members. James posted a statement about the news on the forum of his official website. The tour was to promote his new solo album, Static Impulse, and included a date in St. Paul at Station on Wednesday, December 8.

CIRCLE II CIRCLE To Play Limited US Shows, Including Fridley On November 14

Another amazing progressive metal band is coming to town, and this time it's Circle II Circle. The band has announced several dates for the US in November, and they hit G.B. Leighton's Pickle Park in Fridley this Sunday, November 14. Circle II Circle has only done limited touring in the States, so this is a rare opportunity to see them if you live in one of these cities. Support for the Fridley date will be from 32 Headshots and School Of Rock. Circle II Circle, of course, features former Savatage vocalist Zak Stevens. The band recently released their fifth album, Consequence Of Power, through AFM Records. Their current US tour dates are below the flyer.
November 9 - Biloxi, MS, The Fillin' Station
November 11 - Akron, OH, Ripper's Tap House
November 12 - Beach Park, IL, Cruiser's Bar And Grill
November 13 - Cudahy, WI, Vnuk's Lounge
November 14 - Fridley, MN, G.B. Leighton's Pickle Park, w/32 Headshots and School Of Rock
November 19 - Ocean Springs, MS, Lynchburg Landing
November 20 - Biloxi, MS, Biloxi Town Green
November 28 - Biloxi, MS, Mississippi Coast Harley-Davidson
December 31 - Ocean Springs, MS, Ocean Springs Festival


Long-dormant progressive metal band Symphony X have announced a Spring 2010 North American tour with one of the most impressive bills seen in some time. Joining as support on tour are Nevermore, Soilwork, Powerglove, and Blackguard. The month-long jaunt will hit most areas of the US, including a stop at Station 4 in St. Paul on Monday, May 2. Here is the complete itinerary:
April 21 - Philadelphia, PA, The Trocadero
April 22 - New York, NY, Best Buy Theatre
April 23 - Worcester, MA, The Palladium
April 25 - Montreal, QC, Metropolis
April 26 - Quebec City, QC, Salle Albert Rosseau
April 27 - Toronto, ON, The Opera House
April 29 - Cleveland, OH, Peabody's
April 30 - Detroit, MI, Blondie's
May 1 - Chicago, IL, Bottom Lounge
May 2 - St. Paul, MN, Station 4
May 4 - Denver, CO, Ogden Theater
May 6 - Seattle, WA, Showbox
May 7 - Portland, OR, Hawthorne Theatre
May 8 - San Francisco, CA, The Grand Ballroom
May 10 - Los Angeles, CA, Wiltern Theater
May 11 - Tempe, AZ, Marquee Theatre
May 13 - Dallas, TX, Trees
May 14 - Houston, TX, Scout Bar
May 15 - San Antonio, TX, Backstage Live
May 17 - Orlando, FL, The Club at Firestone
May 18 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Culture Room
May 19 - Atlanta, GA, The Masquerade
May 20 - Raleigh, NC, Volume 11
May 21 - Charlotte, NC, Tremont Music Hall
May 22 - West Springfield, VA, Jaxx

Friday, November 5, 2010

ROGER WATERS The Wall Live Concert Review

Roger Waters
The Wall Live
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN

Roger Waters came through the Twin Cities midway through his mammoth tour to play Pink Floyd’s The Wall in its entirely. Expectations were high for the sold-out crowd, and significant buzz was built up a couple days prior when Roger Waters was spotted having dinner with his entourage at Bar La Grassa in Minneapolis. Rumors flew throughout the local media that Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour had accompanied Waters to Bar La Grassa, raising hopes that St. Paul would be the city where Gilmour joined Waters on stage as he promised to do on one show of the tour. The dinner rumor proved to be unfounded, unfortunately, and Gilmour did not appear at this show. Nevertheless, this was a show of epic proportions that left no one disappointed.
Click to hear Roger Waters perform “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)”.
The Wall was performed in the album’s running order, and Waters was greeted with thunderous applause as he strolled the front of the stage while the band launched into “In The Flesh?” A partial wall was already constructed several feet back from the front of the stage, and the band was set up towards the back. While the band seamlessly worked their way through the early part of the album, including “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)”, “Mother”, and “Goodbye Blue Sky”, the crew was kept busy as they gradually added bricks to the wall. The ever-enlarging wall was used as a video projection surface, and a circular screen was suspended behind the band. The circular screen was used to great effect during “Mother”, showing vintage live footage of Waters performing in sync. Speakers suspended throughout the arena were used to achieve a surround sound effect for many of the recorded sound effects during the show. Giant props were also brought out at times, such a giant marionette, an inflatable pig, and a suspended airplane that crashed into the wall at the end of the “In The Flesh?” By the time the first half of The Wall ended with “Goodbye Cruel World”, the wall was completed and was a sight to behold as it stretched from one side of the arena to the other at a massive height, probably about 15–20 feet high.
Click to hear Roger Waters perform “Goodbye Blue Sky”.
Click to hear Roger Waters perform “Young Lust”.
Following a 20 minute intermission, “Hey You” kicked off the second half of The Wall, and it initially seemed strange to have the band performing out of sight behind the wall. The band wasn’t entirely invisible, as clever tricks were used to showcase Waters and the band during this part of the set. A section of the wall was knocked out to show Waters lounging in a room setting while he sang “Nobody Home”. One of the more dramatic parts of the show was when one of the guitarists was perched on a scaffold atop the wall for the solos in “Comfortably Numb”. Towards the end of the show, the band rose up through risers in the floor so they could play in front of the wall. The show reached a climax with “Waiting For The Worms” as Waters yelled into a megaphone as the cacophony was built up into “The Trial”. At this point the crowd was in a frenzy, shaking their fists while chanting “tear down the wall!” The entire wall structure collapsed, and the band returned amidst the rubble to play the closer, “Outside The Wall”. Band members left the stage one by one as the dying notes faded until Waters was left standing to thank the audience.
Click to hear Roger Waters perform “Comfortably Numb”.
Click to hear Roger Waters perform “Run Like Hell”.
Roger Waters defied all expectations this night, and this show will go down as one of the most memorable for all who attended. The band executed The Wall to perfection, and the lavish production was on the level of what you’d expect from a Broadway or Vegas show. Some critics have complained about the guitarists aping David Gilmour’s work, but what do you expect? More people would feel let down if the music was altered simply for the sake of making it different. In fact, the was allowing to stretch the songs at times, notably during extended guitar and keyboard solos during songs such as “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)”, “Comfortably Numb”, and “Run Like Hell”. No other band can put on an arena-sized production at this level, so this was a concert for the ages.
Check back soon for a posting of the audio from the entire show!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NEVERMORE - October 28, 1997, North Kansas City, MO

After a long absence, Seattle's Nevermore returned with a new album this year, The Obsidian Conspiracy, and they recently set out on an extensive North American tour. Station 4 in St. Paul hosts Nevermore, Warbringer, and Hatesphere for a Halloween show on Sunday, October 31. Go to the Nevermore Myspace page for a list of other remaining tour dates. Mutiny Within previously announced that they have dropped off the tour due the lack of a permanent drummer.
What better way to get primed for this show than to enjoy an uncirculated Nevermore concert unveiled here for the first time. Video and audio are available for you to download Nevermore captured in late 1997 while on tour to promote The Politics Of Ecstasy as the support band for Flotsam And Jetsam. Vocalist Warrel Dane wasn't kidding when he announced to the crowd as he takes the stage, "Hello, we're the band that no one knew was playing!" This show was part of radio station KQRC 98 Rock's Monday night sponsorship at Roadhouse Ruby's hosted by hilarious, popular morning show personality Johnny Dare, but no mention of Nevermore was ever given during promotion. Despite this, the club was packed early to witness Nevermore's first show in Kansas City. The 45 minute set primarily consisted of material from The Politics Of Ecstasy, and also included two songs from the In Memory EP and "Sanctuary", a song from the debut album, Refuge Denied, of Warrell and bassist Jim Sheppard's previous band Sanctuary. I've embedded the video for a couple songs here for you to check out, and you can stream the entire show through my YouTube channel.
Click to watch Nevermore play "The Seven Tongues Of God"
Click to watch Nevermore play "This Sacrament"
Click to watch Nevermore play "Sanctuary"
North Kansas City, MO
Roadhouse Ruby's
1. The Seven Tongues Of God
2. This Sacrament
3. Next In Line
4. Silent Hedges/Double Dare
5. Optimist Or Pessimist
6. Sanctuary
7. The Politics Of Ecstasy
8. The Tiananmen Man
The link to the text file below contains the download links for both the audio (mp3, 320 kbps) and video (mov, H.264, 640 x 480) files. I occasionally get requests for concert videos as a single file, so this is also available (mp4, 640 x 480).
As always, I encourage and welcome sharing, but please share the link to the post rather the link to the text file!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

AFTER THE BURIAL Announces Release Date For New Album In Dreams

Rising progressive metalcore band from the Twin Cities and Sumerian Records recording artist After The Burial has announced November 23 as the release date for their new album In Dreams. This will be the band's third album, and the first of new material with vocalist Anthony Notarmaso.
After The Burial completed a successful tour as direct support to Fear Factory this summer, but left a subsequent tour with Bleeding Through in September following internal band arguments. They embark on a European tour this week with Maroon, The Eyes Of A Traitor, and The Agonist through November 7. To coincide with the release of In Dreams, After The Burial hits the road in the US with Winds Of Plague, Carnifex, War Of Ages, and Upon A Burning Body from November 26 to December 23. The current list of US dates follows the tour flyers below. There's no Twin Cities area date on the tour, but maybe we can hope for a record release show to launch the tour.
November 26 - Phoenix, AZ, Clubhouse
November 27 - Las Cruces, NM, Mikey's Place
November 28 - San Antonio, TX, White Rabbit
November 29 - Corpus Christi, TX, House Of Rock
December 1 - Metairie, LA, The High Ground
December 2 - Columbus, GA, Gallery 13
December 3 - Augusta, GA, Sector 7G
December 4 - Greensboro, NC, Green Street Club
December 5 - Virginia Beach, VA, Skate High
December 6 - Philadelphia, PA, Starlight Ballroom
December 7 - Lancaster, PA, Chameleon Club
December 8 - South Hackensack, NJ, School Of Rock East
December 9 - Poughkeepsie, NY, The Chance
December 10 - Syracuse, NY, Lost Horizon
December 11 - Erie, PA, The Hangout
December 12 - Covington, KY, The Mad Hatter
December 13 - Pittsburgh, PA, Altar Bar
December 14 - Fort Wayne, IN, Broadripple
December 15 - Evansville, IN, Boney Junes
December 16 - Iowa City, IA, Blue Moose
December 17 - Tulsa, OK, Marquee
December 18 - Wichita Falls, TX, The Hangar
December 19 - Farmington, NM, Gators
December 21 - Fresno, CA, Club Retro
December 22 - Pomona, CA, The Glass House
December 23 - Pomona, CA, The Glass House


Dimmu Borgir - Abrahadabra
Nuclear Blast, 2010
Dimmu Borgir certainly has a way of dividing the black metal scene, but their status and influence cannot be denied. The two big questions on everyone’s mind are: how will the departure of bassist and vocalist ICS Vortex and keyboardist Mustis affect their sound, and how over the top will the band go with the increasing symphonic aspects of their music? There’s certainly cause for concern. The continued use of a real orchestra is actually a huge plus, giving the album a more organic sound than the keyboard orchestration used on older albums. There really isn’t any big loss in the heaviness of the band’s sound, either, and if anything the musicianship has been taken to a higher level. The end result is that Abrahadabra is very much akin to the last album from Septicflesh, Communion. After a short instrumental, two of the best songs, “Born Treacherous” and “Gateways”, open the album quite strongly. The first misstep doesn’t occur until the midpoint with “Dimmu Borgir”, which finds the band taking a backseat to the orchestra and operatic vocals in a way that could fit onto a Therion album. “Ritualist” will likely please older fans with its cold, dark feel, and it has a really cool acoustic guitar line incorporated over the fast parts. The other weak track, “The Demiurge Molecule”, is disjointed and all over the map, but “A Jewel Traced Through Coal” does a great job of featuring the while mixing things up a bit. “Renewal” has its moments, but the melodic parts seem out of place. Abrahadabra ends on a strong note with “Endings And Continuations” and leaves you feeling satisfied. I don’t think Abrahadabra will rise to being one of my favorite Dimmu Borgir albums alongside Spiritual Black Dimensions or Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, but the band has unquestionably succeeded in crafting a great record that advances their sound. Abrahadabra will only heighten the complaints from black metal purists, but any Dimmu Borgir album seems to do this. It’s funny how Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth are blamed for corrupting and selling out black metal, but other experimental black metal bands such as Enslaved and Ulver are embraced. Nevertheless, Dimmu Borgir continue to push the boundaries of black metal in ways that make some people uncomfortable. Where this will take them in the future remains to be seen, but Abrahadabra is a worthy addition to Dimmu Borgir’s extensive catalog.
Dimmu Borgir performs Tuesday, November 16 at The Cabooze in Minneapolis. Support will come from Enslaved, Blood Red Throne, and Dawn Of Ashes.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Nightmare Records Fall 2010 Sampler Available For Free Download

Progressive-power metal label Nightmare Records has made the Fall 2010 album sampler, A Nightmare On The Horizon, available as a free mp3 download at their website. A Nightmare On The Horizon features 13 songs from both Nightmare Records artists and distributed titles. Eight of the songs are from albums that will be released this October and November, while the remaining five are from albums available now.
I've been setting some money aside for many of these albums, as there's a lot of killer stuff here! Songs from the bands whose albums are released this Tuesday, October 12 - Manticore, Halcyon Way, Tetrafusion, Fracture, and Toxxic Toyz - are all great. Other favorites of mine here are Soulspell, Seven Kingdoms, Sinbreed, and Empyria. A Nightmare On The Horizon is a fantastic compilation featuring many great bands to be discovered. Click on the link above and commence downloading!
Nightmare Records is the St. Paul-based label founded and run by vocalist Lance King (ex-Avian, Pyramaze, Balance Of Power, Gemini, others).

CRYPTICON Minneapolis 2010 Bands Announced

The Crypticon Festival in Minneapolis has released the full lineup of 14 bands scheduled to perform at the horror movie festival held November 5-7 at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel. Here is the band list for each night:
Friday, November 5 - Jack Havoc, Impaler, Tennessee Murder Club, The Clincher, Alation, and Solution 13
Saturday, November 6 - Mushroomhead, Wrecking Day, Black Food Diesel, Dead Bundy, Souless Affection, Caustic Vision, Pinwheel, and Gabriel And The Apocalypse
Mushroomhead will also be doing a meet and greet on Saturday at the convention. There are a variety of ticket packages available, including tickets for all events, only the convention events, and only the concert events. If you're only interested in seeing the concerts, tickets for Friday night only are $13, and tickets for Friday and Saturday are $23. It doesn't appear that concert tickets for Saturday night only are available. If you are coming from out of town, Crypticon has arranged special room rates at the Sheraton if you reserve your room by Friday, October 15.
Among the guests that are scheduled for convention events are:
Jeffrey Combs - actor (Re-Animator, Star Trek, more)
Bruce Abbott - actor (Re-Animator, The Last Starfighter, more)
Kathleen Kinmont - actress (Halloween 4, Bride Of Re-Animator, more)
Walter Phelan - creature actor, makeup and effects artist (House Of 1000 Corpses, Watchmen, Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight, more)
Jake McKinnon - actor, effects artist (House Of 1000 Corpses, Halloween II, more)
Dee Wallace - actress (E.T., The Howling, Rob Zombie's Halloween, more)
Tom Sullivan - makeup and effects artist, props, animator (Evil Dead, more). Tom will bring along his museum of movie props and illustrations.
Troy Holbrook - Bodybag Photography and FX (Crave, Cyrus, more). Tory will be conducting a hands-on, 2-day class on the making of silicone appliances.
Brian Krause - actor (Charmed, Tales From The Crypt, more). Brian's new film, Cyrus: The Mind Of A Killer, will be screened Friday night.
Jason Lively - actor (European Vacation, Night Of The Creeps, more)
William B. Davis - actor (The X-Files, Stargate SG-1, more)
Joe Knetter - author and script writer (Twisted Loneliness, Strip Club Slasher, more)
Scarlet Salem - actress and writer (Killer Biker Chicks, Terror Overload, more)
Sean Clark - producer and writer (The Black Waters Of Echo's Pond, Horror's Hallowed Grounds, more)
Dr. Ivan Cryptosis - Kooky Spooky Theatre
This is the 5th year of Crypticon, and it promises to be an interesting experience for horror buffs. View the trailer from last year's event below.

GENITORTURERS Release Fall US Tour Dates

I alerted you 10 days ago about Genitorturers playing Friday, November 5 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from Sister Sin and Mary Magdalan, and the likelihood that more tour dates were to come. The full list of confirmed dates has now been released that takes the band through the eastern half of the US in November. See the tour flyer below for the full list of dates and venues. Mary Magdalan is confirmed as support for the tour, but whether Sister Sin will take part seems to be in doubt since they are currently scheduled to play in Copenhagen, Denmark on November 6. A Genitorturers show is always a spectacle, and Gen never disappoints! Additional local support in St. Paul will come from Apocalypse Theater and Kali Yuga.

D.R.I. Announces More US Tour Dates Through February

Having just completed a month's worth of tour dates, crossover-thrash legends D.R.I. recently announced a huge number of new dates all over the US that run through February 2011. There's two opportunities to see D.R.I. in the Twin Cities area just before Thanksgiving. The closer show is Monday, November 22 at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina, Minnesota. If you live in western Wisconsin, D.R.I. plays the House Of Rock in Eau Claire, Wisconsin the night before on Sunday, November 21.

October 14 - Jacksonville, FL, Jack Rabbits
October 15 - Tampa, FL, Brass Mug
October 16 - Orlando, FL, The Club At Firestone
October 17 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Culture Room
November 9 - Peekskill, NY, Popeye's Pub
November 10 - Newport News, VA, Budda's Place
November 11 - West Springfield, VA, Jaxx
November 12 - Hartford, CT, Webster Theater
November 14 - Baltimore, MD, Sonar
November 18 - Columbus, OH, Newport Music Hall
November 19 - Lansing, MI, Mac's
November 20 - Madison, WI, The Annex
November 21 - Eau Claire, WI, House Of Rock
November 22 - Medina, MN, Medina Entertainment Center
December 15 - Farmington, NM, Gators Bar And Grill
December 16 - Pueblo, CO, Zippers
December 17 - Denver, CO, Bluebird Theater
December 18 - Salt Lake City, UT, Club Vegas
January 15 - Hollywood, CA, Key Club
January 16 - Ventura, CA, Ventura Theatre
January 27 - Grand Rapids, MI, Intersection
January 28 - Flint, MI, The Machine Shop
January 29 - Indianapolis, IN, Emerson Theater
January 30 - Chicago, IL, Reggie's Rock Club
January 31 - Des Moines, IA, Vaudeville Mews
February 1 - Springfield, MO, Outland Ballroom
February 12 - Corpus Christi, TX, Zero's
February 13 - Houston, TX, Numbers
February 14 - Austin, TX, Emo's
February 15 - San Antonio, TX, White Rabbit
February 17 - Amarillo, TX, The War Legion Underground
February 18 - Oklahoma City, OK, The Conservatory
February 19 - Tulsa, OK, Marquee
February 20 - Dallas, TX, Trees
February 24 - Rochester, NY, Montage Music Hall
February 25 - Providence, RI, Club Hell
February 26 - Philadelphia, PA, Trocadero Theater
February 27 - Sayerville, NJ, Starland Ballroom

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Darkness Day 2010 At Surly Brewing

Not only are we blessed with great metal bands and shows in the Twin Cities, but we have one of the best breweries anywhere in the world, Surly Brewing. If you are a beer enthusiast then surely you already know this.
Saturday, October 23 marks the annual release of Surly Darkness with Darkness Day, a day-long party held at the brewery (4811 Dusharme Dr., Brooklyn Center, MN 55429). For those unaware, Darkness is consistently rated amongst the top 1-3 beers in the world, any style, on many beer websites such as Beer Advocate. Darkness is a thick, potent Russian imperial stout that packs a big punch. It's no stretch to say that Darkness is one of the most sought-after beers in the world and bottles are only sold in limited quantities at Darkness Day. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a stray bottle at an area liquor store or a keg at a local bar, but purchasing your stash at Darkness Day is the only way to guarantee your supply.
The label for 2010's Darkness.
The event officially begins at noon, although people usually begin lining up outside the gates at 6 or 7 am. Approximately 7,500 bottles of Darkness will be for sale at $18 per bottle (these are wine-size 750 mL bottles) with a limit of six per person. Food and beer are available for purchase, and Surly usually serves some of their limited edition beers, including cask beers. It's fun to meet people from all over the country who make the trek for this event.
Surly is the country's fastest-growing brewery, and is working hard to increase their brewing capacity. They even had to pull Surly from all distribution markets outside the Twin Cities this summer just so they could meet the backlog of demand for their beer here in The Cities!
There will be also be bands playing all afternoon inside the brewery, but the bands playing this year haven't been announced yet. The cool thing is that many of the brewery employees are metalheads, and almost anytime I've been at the brewery to purchase growlers (when they were available) Slayer or another similar band would be blasting in the shop! A couple years ago Powermad played a reunion show at Darkness Day, so usually the bands that play this event are good ones.
The latest details about Darkness Day 2010 can be found at Surly's newsblog.

JAMES LABRIE St. Paul VIP Tickets Available

I usually don't mention the availability of VIP tickets for shows, but the benefits of the VIP ticket for the James LaBrie show in St. Paul go beyond the typical early entry privileges and band meet and greet. In addition to these things, it will also include seating in a "special front row VIP section" with tables and waitress service. I've never seen this type of setup at Station 4 before, but this sounds like VIP ticket holders will have seats and tables in a special section set up between the stage and barricade and general ticket holders will be several feet away from the stage. If you're a huge Dream Theater fan there's not going to be a better way to experience the show than this!
A limited number of VIP tickets for James LaBrie on Wednesday, December 8 at Station 4 in St. Paul are available now at Enter The Vault for $60. There will be one local support band that will be determined by a series of battle of the band events taking place through SwordLord Productions.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Avian – The Path
Blinding Force Recordings, 2010
It’s really difficult to rate an EP higher than 8, simply because most are usually stopgap releases containing odds and ends that aren’t representative of a band. Guitarist Yan Leviathan and Avian continue to improve upon the outstanding Ashes And Madness power metal album despite losing vocalist supreme Lance King. No band is so fortunate as to realize that they’ve got another member with the talent to replace someone like Lance, but that’s exactly what happened with Avian and their bassist, Brian Hollenbeck. If you’ve seen Avian or Echoterra, Yan and Brian’s other band, then you already know that Brian has a great voice, and Brian really takes it to next level here on The Path. Taking over the bass slot from Brian is Jaden Adair from the now defunct Minneapolis band Risingfall. This four-song EP contains two tracks that will appear on the next Avian album, “The Path” and “When The Night’s Undone”, an instrumental, “S.S.”, and an acoustic version of “The Fear”, originally released on From The Depths Of Time. “The Path” has been a part of Avian’s live set for a while, and its high-pitched vocals immediately lay to rest any doubts about Brian as the new frontman. Brian’s voice is edgier than Lance’s, and he helps to bring a darker vibe to “When The Night’s Undone”. Musically, these two songs contain heavy riffs reminiscent of Criss Oliva’s playing for Savatage. The big surprise on The Path is “S.S.”, a smoking-hot instrumental that has Yan and lead guitarist Steve Stine dueling their way through an aggressive shred-fest worthy of the Shrapnel label. The acoustic version of “The Fear” is tastefully done and a nice addition to the package. The Path is essential for any power metal fan, and it will reassure anyone skeptical about Lance’s departure. “S.S.” and “The Fear (Acoustic)” are exclusive to this release, and they make the EP well worth its modest price. Avian fans have a lot to look forward to on the next album, Midnight At The Tower, which is scheduled for release in early 2011, and The Path is an excellent preview that confirms Avian’s place at the top of the current power metal scene.
Click to listen to “The Path”.
The Path is available in CD format directly from the band (, CD Baby, and Amazon, and as a digital download from CD Baby and iTunes.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Three Great Shows Tonight

There's three big metal shows going on tonight, surely there's something here for most people's taste.
Death metal fans should already have their plans set for Station 4 in St. Paul tonight, with a monstrous bill of Immolation, Vader, Abigail Williams, Pathology, and Lecherous Nocturne. Nuclear Blast recording artist from St. Paul, The Crinn, will open the show, so be there when the doors open at 7 for this 16+ show.
A big hardcore show is happening at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis with Agnostic Front appearing with Mother Of Mercy and Product Of Waste. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of their Victim In Pain album, Agnostic Front will be performing this classic album and their United Blood 7" in their entirety.
Lastly, the great alternative metal band The Pimps (aka The Goodyear Pimps) from Illinois will be performing tonight at Club Underground in Minneapolis with Kentucky Belt Fight and The Grande Machine.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


High On Fire, Torche, Kylesa
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis, MN
The Varsity Theater rarely hosts metal shows, so this was my first time here at this great venue that reminds me a bit of the Granada Theater in Lawrence, Kansas. It’s obvious that the interior was designed by the same folks behind Loring Pasta Bar and the Kitty Cat Klub down the street in Dinkytown. Plush, comfortable chairs lined the back and sides of the hall, providing great sightlines from almost anywhere.
Click photo to see more pictures of Kylesa (22).
Kylesa just hit the stage with “Hollow Severer” as security rummaged through my camera gear and I quickly wormed my way to the front as the stage was bathed in a swirl of psychedelic imagery from slide-stage projectors. Half of the ten-song, 40 minute set was drawn from last year’s Static Tensions album, and having two drummers in the live show adds immense sound to the band. No breaks were taken between songs as Kylesa hammered their way through the sludge-drenched chords of “Unknown Awareness” and “Running Red”. Three songs from the forthcoming Spiral Shadow album were played (“Tired Climb”, “Forsaken”, and “Don’t Look Back”), and they indicate an evolving, slightly different approach to heavy Kylesa sound. This certainly will be an album to watch out for when it’s released on October 26. “Bottom Line” was the only song played from To Walk A Middle Course, which led into “Don’t Look Back”. The closing number, “Scapegoat”, was the highlight of the show, from a pounding, driving introduction featuring the drummers, all the way through a powerful solo from guitarist Laura Pleasants as the rest of the band joined in on percussion. Don’t miss Kylesa the next time they roll through your town.
Click to watch Kylesa perform “Tired Climb”.
Click to watch Kylesa perform “Said And Done”.
Click to watch Kylesa perform “Bottom Line”.
Click to watch Kylesa perform “Don’t Look Back”.
Torche was a pleasant surprise, as the trio is much heavier live than their most recent EP, Songs For Singles, would suggest. They’re commonly give the stoner rock tag, but I hear more of an influence from heavy alternative metal bands such as Therapy? All members of the band were energetic and fun to watch on stage, and the drummer was especially fun to watch as he made eye contact with the crowd. Most of Songs For Singles was played, the highlights being “U.F.O.”, “Face The Wall”, and “Hideaway”. I wasn’t too familiar with Torche before tonight, but the show has given me a new appreciation for Songs For Singles and convinced that they are band to watch out for great things.
Click picture to see more photos of Torche (19).
Click to watch Torche perform “Arrowhead”.
Click to watch Torche perform “Hideaway”.
Click to watch Torche perform “Lay Low”.
Everyone was now primed for High On Fire, and I was excited since it had been a couple since I last saw Matt Pike and crew rip it up on Megadeth’s Gigantour. No one writes cranium-smashing riffs like Matt Pike, other than Zakk Wylde, and he’s always a sight to behold live. The bulk of the set centered around the last two albums, Snakes For The Divine and Death Is This Communion, and the gauntlet was immediately thrown down with “Frost Hammer”. As all bands did tonight, there were no breaks or banter between songs, and “Turk” was immediately followed by “Blessed Black Wings”. The band dipped into the back catalog for “Baghdad” and “Hung, Drawn, And Quartered”, and newer tracks like “Rumors Of War” and “Fire, Flood & Plague” kept the crowd moving. The only drop in intensity came from the slow, drawn out “Bastard Samarai”, one of my least favorite songs from Snakes For The Divine. It was depressing to watch Matt struggle through a solo with his guitar chord laying on the stage. Several fans were pointed at the disconnected chord, but no one helped plug him back in until someone jumped up on stage to hand the plug to Matt. No good deed goes unpunished as the staff then decided to do something and hustled the guy away from the stage. Later, Matt threw up his hands in frustration and looked like he was ready to kick down his stack of amps. Despite these glitches, High On Fire on again proved why they are the reigning kings of heavy doom metal. It ain’t pretty, but no one can deny the power and talent emanating from Matt’s guitar. This was an incredible bill, and all three bands sounded as good as ever.
Click picture to see more photos of High On Fire (24).
Click to watch High On Fire perform “Waste Of Tiamat”.
Click to watch High On Fire perform “Baghdad”.