Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Living Sacrifice Album Review

Living Sacrifice – The Infinite Order
Solid State, 2010


9/10



Christian death metal legends Living Sacrifice released two monumental albums, The Hammering Process (2000) and Conceived In Fire (2002), before calling it quits and the members moving on to other projects. The band quietly reformed and self-released the two-song Death Machine EP in 2008, and now are back in full force with The Infinite Order. While The Hammering Process was a quantum leap forward in the band’s sound, The Infinite Order sees Living Sacrifice continuing their groovy, tribal-infused death metal sound as if the seven years since Conceived In Fire had never passed. “Overkill Exposure” sets the tone for The Infinite Order with a brutal assault of epic proportions. Other standout tracks are “Nietzche’s Madman” with its wicked middle section that leads into the guitar solo and “Organized Lie”, a vicious pummeling of frenetic riffs. Most of the songs are faster, mid-tempo affairs, but the band isn’t afraid to pick up the speed for a few of the 11 songs. Many of the guitar solos sound like they would be at home on earlier releases from Slayer or Exodus, something I never picked up from other Living Sacrifice albums. There’s really not a bad song here, and it’s easy to let yourself get consumed by the sheer intensity of the album while listening to it. Overall, The Infinite Order is a fantastic continuation of the Living Sacrifice legacy. Fans won’t be let down, and let’s just hope that the wait for the next album won’t be so long.

Living Sacrifice will be appearing at The Vault in Buffalo on Sunday, February 14. Support will come from War Of Ages, Shai Hulud, Lionheart, The Commission, and Your Memorial.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Powermad Plans 2010 Activities

Fresh on the heels of Richard Christy's endorsement, Minneapolis power metal legends Powermad have announced that a new album and concerts are in the works for 2010! Radio DJ Paul Weston (WLFE) passed along a detailed update from vocalist/guitarist Joel DuBay as reported on Blabbermouth. Among the key news items: (1) tracks for a new album a already demoed and the band is decided upon a producer, (2) the new album is the band's number one priority for this year, and (3) Powermad is available for shows beginning in Spring 2010. Let's hope that some local shows are also on the agenda! The full statement from Paul Weston can be read here.

Mayhem Minneapolis Concert Announcement

The concert announcements keep rolling in! Controversial Norwegian black metal legends Mayhem have announced a North American tour that will bring them to the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Wednesday, April 14. Supports acts will be Ludicra and Tombs.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Fan Club Only Theater Tour

Symphonic hard rock icons Trans-Siberian Orchestra has announced a special non-Christmas tour that will have the touring machine playing theaters. TSO will be only be playing material from their two non-Christmas albums, Beethoven's Last Night in its entirety and alongside selections from 2009's Night Castle. Tickets will only be available to members of the TSO fanclub, and you must currently be a member or register (free) by February 1 to be eligible to purchase tickets for this tour. The trek will be bring TSO to The State Theatre in Minneapolis on Saturday, April 24. To sign up for the TSO fan club, visit www.trans-siberianexpress.com.

Richard Christy Pays Tribute To Powermad

Prolific drummer and Howard Stern sidekick Richard Christy will be paying tribute to Minneapolis legends Powermad with his new band Charred Walls Of The Damned by offering a cover of "Nice Dreams". Although this track was recorded as a Japanese bonus track, it will be available to US fans through iTunes when the self-titled album is released on February 2. Charred Walls Of The Damned also features vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens (Judas Priest, Yngwie Malmsteen, Iced Earth, Beyond Fear) and Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Testament, Sabastian Bach, many others).

Richard was cool enough to put in some high praise for Powermad, and his reasons for recording "Nice Dreams" in a statement on the Charred Walls Of The Damned Myspace blog:

"I've been a huge fan of Powermad's classic 1989 album ‘Absolute Power' since it came out. I wanted to do a cover song that I loved and at the same time, one that a lot of people probably have not heard. ‘Absolute Power' has been out of print for some time now so I'm sure the song Nice Dreams will be new to a lot of people, but will also bring back some great memories for metalheads like me who love the song and who love Powermad" explains Christy.

Sleaszy Rider Records Signs Cold Colours

Congratulations are in order to Minneapolis-based Cold Colours, who have signed a new record deal with Sleaszy Rider Records. The band's brief announcement can be read on their Myspace blog. Their third album is expected to be released in late 2010.

Cold Colours has two upcoming headlining shows in the area. They will be performing on Saturday, February 27 at The Rock in Maplewood with support from Shadow Craft, Deretia, and Insurrect. Saturday, March 20 will find Cold Colours taking the stage at Station 4 in St. Paul.

Powerman 5000 Returns To Maplewood

As part of an ongoing promotional campaign for Somewhere On The Other Side Of Nowhere, Powerman 5000 has announced a return engagement at The Rock in Maplewood on Thursday, June 10. Support bands have not been announced at this time.

Hypocrisy Announces St. Paul Concert

After having their last tour cancelled due to work visa issues, Swedish Nuclear Blast recording artist Hypocrisy has announced a new North American tour that will bring them to Station 4 in St. Paul on Sunday, May 23. Support acts are Hate, Blackguard, and Swashbuckle.

Epica Keyboardist For North American Tour

Coen Janssen, keyboardist for Epica, has released a statement on his Myspace blog explaining that he will not be joining the band on their North American tour which began last night to focus on commitments related to planning his wedding in April. His replacement for this tour is Oliver Palotai, keyboardist for Kamelot.


Epica will be performing at Station 4 in St. Paul on Saturday, February 6. Support will come from Threat Signal, Blackguard, Echoterra, Gracepoint, and Dread Veil.



Monday, January 25, 2010

Behemoth Concert Tonight Cancelled!

Bad news, indeed - tonight's Behemoth concert at Station 4 in St. Paul has been cancelled due to weather. All bands on the tour, including Septicflesh and Lightning Swords Of Death, are presently stuck in North Dakota. Whiteout snowstorm conditions have forced the closure of I-29, so the bands are unable to travel today. The full statement can be read on Behemoth's Myspace page.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Abigail Williams Cancels Nile Tour

Candlelight Records recording artist Abigail Williams has announced on their Myspace page that they have cancelled their support slot for Nile on their current tour. Drummer Ken Meyers was recently injured, and this is the recent for the tour cancellation.


The Nile tour will still bring support bands Immolation, Krisiun, and Dreaming Dead to Station 4 in St. Paul on Saturday, January 23.





Kamelot Announces Minneapolis Concert

Power metal band Kamelot has announced a Fall 2010 North American tour that will bring them back to town in support of their new, forthcoming album. Kamelot will step up from their previously packed shows at Station in St. Paul to play First Avenue in Minneapolis on Saturday, September 25. Support acts will be Leaves' Eyes and Blackguard.

Latest Avian Happenings

Yan Leviathan, guitarist for Minneapolis-based power metal band Avian, has issued an update regarding the band's activities in 2010. Avian is already at work on pre-production for their third album, and is expected to be released in late 2010 or early 2011. The full statement is can be read here.


Avian has also been announced as support for Hammerfall and Powerglove on Thursday, March 18 at Station 4 in St. Paul.





Monday, January 11, 2010

Primal Fear Album Review

Primal Fear – 16.6 – Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
Frontiers, 2009


7/10



With Primal Fear you can be pretty sure of what you’re going to get – classic-sounding power metal and soaring vocals ground out with German precision. Despite the unusual title, 16.6 – Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead delivers quality metal on all fronts. Everything is here, from the speed metal opener “Riding The Eagle”, to pounding anthems such as “Killbound”, “Six Times Dead (16.6)”, and “Smith & Wesson”, to the epic ballads “Black Rain” and “Hands Of Time”. Things even mixed up a little bit with modern-sounding studio tricks used on “Soar” and “No Smoke Without Fire”. The production is crisp and clear, with a solid balance between the instruments while enabling Ralph Sheepers’ pipes to sing and scream above the band. No new ground is broken here, but that’s not what Primal Fear is trying to do. One could legitimately claim that Primal Fear is continuing through a well-worn formulaic path, but this is trumped by the quality of the songs. 16.6 – Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead is a solid, well-performed effort that further cements Primal Fear as one of the leading power metal bands.

Primal Fear put in a long, powerful set during their last visit to Station 4 in September (review and pictures are here), so expect another night of loud, crazy metal when they return in May.

Primal Fear will be appearing at Station 4 in St. Paul on Sunday, May 30. Support will come from Luna Mortis.

Slayer/Megadeth Tour Postponed

It was recently announced that the upcoming Slayer and Megadeth co-headling tour has been postponed. The full press statement released by the band can be read here. Slayer bassist and vocalist Tom Araya has been treated for a back injury recently, but his condition now necessitates surgery. Tour plans for Slayer have been canceled through April. Ticket holders for the February 4 concert at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul are being advised to hold on to their tickets. The Slayer/Megadeth tour will likely be rescheduled for this summer.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Testament To Play The Legacy Album On Upcoming Slayer/Megadeth Tour


In an interview with KNAC.COM posted on January 2 Testament vocalist Chuck Billy announced that the band will be playing their 1987 debut album, The Legacy, in its entirely during their upcoming support slot on the Slayer/Megadeth tour. Here is Chuck’s response (in part) to the question, “What are you doing to gear up for the tour?”:

“Last night we just made a crucial decision, so you’re going to be the first exclusive to hear. We decide(d) last night that instead of putting—because we only have a 40-minute set to pick—instead of playing a medley of songs, we decided we’re going to do the entire The Legacy record, start to finish, in its entirety for the show. Since we’ve already toured a year and a half with Priest, we did our own headline, we did so much stuff out there, why don’t we go out there and do something different? We’ll give ‘em a whole different stage look…let’s give ‘em The Legacy album, start to finish. It’s a nostalgic kind of tour, so why not?”

The entire interview with KNAC.COM can be read here.

I’m still not sure exactly what to think of this announcement, but I’m certainly disappointed. It’s hard to call the Slayer/Megadeth tour a nostalgia tour since both co-headliners are promoting recent Billboard-charting albums. I understand that Testament is done promoting 2008’s The Formation Of Damnation and is working on a new record, but I’d rather see a set heavy on that amazing album. I love The Legacy, but I prefer to see bands play their newer material, especially when it’s band that I’ve seen many times throughout the years (I think it’s seven times that I’ve seen Testament since 1990). Why not play The Formation Of Damnation in its entirety? How about a couple newly written songs? That would be a real treat for this tour!

I’m still bummed out about the last Testament show I saw at Epic in Minneapolis in July 2008. This was probably the worst Testament show that I’ve ever seen. This was an “off-date” show to fill in a few days between a Canadian tour with Judas Priest and the Masters of Metal tour with Judas Priest, Heaven And Hell, and Motörhead. For some reason, Testament only played for 50 minutes at this headline show and only played two songs off of The Formation Of Damnation. A show this short was simply inexcusable and left me filling ripped off.

Hopefully Chuck was speaking prematurely about this, and Testament will reconsider this decision.

Testament will be supporting co-headliners Slayer and Megadeth at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul on Thursday, February 4.

Barren Earth EP Review

Barren Earth – Our Twilight EP
Peaceville, 2009


7/10



Barren Earth should attract immediate interest due to the fact that their lineup sports current and former members of European underground luminaries such as Amorphis, Kreator, Swallow The Sun, and Moonsorrow. The band has no North American tour plans that I know of, but I thought I’d review their debut EP since many of the members’ main bands will be coming through St. Paul this year. The biography of Barren Earth describes their sound as progressive death metal, and this isn’t too far off the mark although immediate comparisons will be drawn to Amorphis and Swallow The Sun. The material here is slow, depressive death metal, and an edited version of “Our Twilight” opens the proceedings with heavy, poundings rhythms that lead into a cleanly sung chorus. “Jewel” is an outtake from 2009 recording sessions, and features liberal use of piano and organ to give this song its prog sensibilities. The final two tracks, “Flame Of Serenity” and “Floodred” were recorded in a 2008 session and have a sound that’s a bit denser, but sound a little heavier than the first two songs. There’s a lot of promise shown here, and Barren Earth would likely appeal to fans of early Amorphis and other slow, progressive-sounding death metals bands. The debut full-length album will be released in April in the United States.

Kreator will be appearing at Station 4 in St. Paul on Sunday, March 14. Support will come from Voivod, Nachtmystium, Evile, and Lazarus A.D.

Moonsorrow and Swallow The Sun will be appearing as support to Finntroll at Station 4 in St. Paul on Saturday, April 17. Additional support will come from Survivors Zero.