Friday, April 30, 2010

Public Assassin - Des Moines, IA, June 1994

This thread started back on April 16 when I posted the complete audio and video of a classic Cannibal Corpse show with Chris Barnes from The Bleeding tour that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been circulated. Don't forget that Cannibal Corpse plays this Saturday, May 1 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from 1349, Skeletonwitch, and Lecherous Nocturne. I decided to follow-up the original Cannibal Corpse post with the complete audio and video of the sets from the support bands on the tour: Cynic and Sinister. To complete the thread, here is the audio and video of the final opening band of this show: Public Assassin, featuring Richard Christy on drums!
Public Assassin was an excellent death metal band from Springfield, Missouri that put out a string of demos from 1989–1994. Upon moving to Florida to start Burning Inside, Richard Christy rapidly made a name for himself as a drummer for Acheron, Death, Control Denied, Demons & Wizards, and Iced Earth. He has now achieved even wider recognition as a comedian as a member of the Howard Stern Show. Richard's latest band is Charred Walls Of The Damned, which also features Tim "Ripper" Owens and Steve DiGiorgio. Their debut self-titled album was released this year on Metal Blade, and was reviewed here.
This show took place in June 1994 at the Two Rivers Music Hall in Des Moines, Iowa. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only complete Public Assassin set that has been made available. Although I'm not at liberty to disclose the taper, this is a first generation copy from the original source. Here's the set list, which primarily featured songs from their 1994 Murdered demo:
1. Cholera
2. Led Away
3. Disgrace
4. Ugly
5. I Haven't A Soul
6. Thaw
7. Headbox
8. Worms Return
The download links for the both the video (.mov, H.264, 640 x 480) and audio (.mp3@320 kbps or flac) are contained in the text file linked below.
Click to watch Public Assassin play "Disgrace".
Click to watch Public Assassin play "I Haven't A Soul".
As always, feel free to share the download links, but please forward the link to this post rather than re-posting the links on other sites. Look for more never  seen before, uncirculated shows from a number of bands to be posted here at Twin Cities Metal soon! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Charred Walls Of The Damned Album Review

I've decided to somewhat expand the scope of albums I review to include select noteworthy releases from artists that currently do not have shows scheduled in the Twin Cities. First up is the mighty Charred Walls Of The Damned.
Charred Walls Of The Damned – Charred Walls Of The Damned
Metal Blade, 2010
Charred Walls Of The Damned is a new eyebrow-raising project of drummer extraordinaire Richard Christy (Death, Iced Earth, others). All music was written by Richard, and he assembled a dream cast of musicians to execute his vision: Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen) on vocals, Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Testament, others) on bass, and Jason Seucof (producer of countless metal bands) on guitar. The real wild card here is the vocal prowess of Tim Owens. How will his soaring vocal style fit with the predominantly death metal pedigrees of the band? Exceptionally well, actually. The closest comparison I can draw is to the sole album by Control Denied, the progressive power/death metal project of the late Chuck Schuldiner (Death). Charred Walls Of The Damned isn’t death metal, but not quite thrash metal or power metal. The riffs are heavy and the vocals are strong, yet there’s enough breakneck rhythms balanced with melodies and guitar solos to keep each song interesting. Things are about what you’d expect from the union of death metal musicians with a power metal-style singer, but the quality of the songs raises this album to heights not usually seen with project albums. The album opens with “Ghost Town”, a furious statement of intent, and is following by “From The Abyss”, one of the best tracks that features awesome vocal melodies over a slow tempo. “Blood On Wood” nearly matches the vocal glories of “From The Abyss”, while “The Darkest Eyes” elegantly combines interesting guitar work with fast bass and drum work. There aren’t any throwaway songs in the lot of nine, but a couple unmemorable ones (“Creating Our Machine” and “Manifestations”) is all that’s holding back a 10 rating. One interesting aspect the recording is the heavy use of multi-tracked vocal harmonies, which adds to the strong voice of Tim Owens to create an impressive vocal sound. Hopefully this won’t be the last time we hear from Charred Walls Of The Damned.

Rob Zombie Guitarist John 5 Announces Rochester In-Store Signing

John 5, current guitarist in Rob Zombie's band, has announced on his website an in-store signing of his new solo CD The Art Of Malice in Rochester, MN on May 11 at Best Buy (4540 Maine Ave. SE, Rochester, MN 55904). The event starts at 5:30 pm, and those who purchase The Art Of Malice at Best Buy will receive a free poster.
If you're up for a little drive from the Twin Cities, Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper have two co-headlining shows coming up as part of their "Gruesome Twosome" tour:
Tuesday, May 11, Rochester, MN, Mayo Civic Center Arena
Wednesday, May 12, Duluth, MN, DECC Arena

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ratt Album Review

Ratt - Infestation
Loud & Proud, 2010
Defying all the odds, Ratt has returned with a vibrant, respectable album. The band is always going to have a hard time recreating the magic of the EP and their first three albums, but Infestation can stand proudly alongside their classic back catalog. This is easily Ratt’s best album since Dancing Undercover, blowing away anything since then. Quiet Riot’s Carlos Cavazo is the latest guitarist alongside Warren DiMartini. His playing fits well with the band and he seems to have helped breathe some new life into Ratt. Infestation leads off with “Eat Me Up Alive”, a track that sounds like prime, classic Ratt. “Lost Weekend” is the other song that old fans can immediately latch onto. The remainder of the album explores a number of different sounds without straying too far from their distinctive style, a problem with Reach For The Sky. A more modern, heavy sound is evident on songs such as “Take A Big Bite” and “As Good As It Gets”, demonstrating that their sound can evolve in good ways. Another group of songs, “Best Of Me” and “A Little Too Much”, and “Don’t Let Go”, again harken back to Ratt’s mid-80s sound. The only real stinkers are the quasi-blues stomp of “Look Out Below” and the weak ballad “Take Me Home”. Infestation sounds better and better with each listen, and will definitely take everyone by surprise. Ratt have managed to write an album that lives up to the legacy of their early albums while sounding fresh and relevant over 20 years later. This is a must-buy for all fans of Ratt.
Look for some classic Ratt and Quiet Riot memorabilia to be posted here soon!
Ratt will be appearing at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina on Friday, May 14. Support will come from Knight Crawler.

Sinister - Des Moines, IA, June 1994

The response to my posting of an uncirculated Cannibal Corpse show (here) from 1994 in anticipation of their May 1 show at Station 4 in St. Paul has been quite large, so I've been posting the video and audio recordings of the other bands from this classic show (Cynic is here). Now here is the complete set from Netherlands death metal legends Sinister in support of the Diabolical Summoning album. This was recorded in June 1994 at the Two Rivers Music Hall in Des Moines, Iowa. Links to the downloadable audio (mp3, 320 kbps or flac) and video (mov, H.264, 640 x 480) files are in the text file linked below. This is the complete show:
1. Sadistic Intent
2. Cross The Styx
3. Sense Of Demise
4. Epoch Of Denial
5. Tribes Of The Moon
6. Perennial Mourning
7. Desecrated Flesh
Click to watch Sinister play "Cross The Styx".
Click to watch Sinister play "Sense Of Demise".
As always, if you want to share the download links, please link to this post rather than posting the text file elsewhere. Thanks and enjoy!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Throwback Night On American Carnage Tour

Slayer and Megadeth issued a joint press release today announcing that each band will be performing the Seasons In The Abyss and Rust In Peace albums, respectively, in their entirely on their joint American Carnage co-headlining tour. Support band for the trek, Testament, previously stated their intention to play their debut album The Legacy in full on this tour as well.
I generally think this is a poor idea for all three bands, and I'm quite disappointed at this news. If anything, it makes the most sense for Testament since their most recent album, The Formation Of Damnation is nearly two years old. Both Slayer and Megadeth have new albums out and have not played in The Cities to support them yet. Why should these bands dedicate most of their sets to old albums? I've seen Slayer, Megadeth, and Testament probably close to ten times each and would much rather have them play new music that I haven't seen them perform yet. You'd think that having Slayer, Megadeth, and Testament on the same bill wouldn't require any gimmicks like this to bring fans through the door. I'm actually less excited for this show than I was before.
Slayer and Megadeth will be performing as co-headliners on Tuesday, August 10 at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul. Support will come from Testament.

The Crinn, Ambassador Gun Concert Review

The Crinn, Ambassador Gun
Dreaming Saturn Record Release Show
Saturday, April 24, 2010
The Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, MN
After getting out of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert (reviewed here) and leaving downtown Minneapolis, I made my way over to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood to The Triple Rock for what was left of the record release show for The Crinn. Fortunately I caught half of Ambassador Gun’s set of grindcore punk. They played nearly nothing from their When In Hell album (now distributed worldwide by Relapse), instead focusing on newly recorded songs for an EP. They pounded their way through songs such as “The Crosshairs Superior”, “Calamity Jane”, “Chris Brown”, and “Fear And Coercion”, with the guitarist and bassist even switching instruments during the show. Don’t the grindcore tag Ambassador Gun had fool you, because their sound owes as much to death metal and punk. The band sounded tight with the new songs and they look set to begin making a big impact during the next year.
Click picture for more photos of Ambassador Gun (13).

Click to watch Ambassador Gun play “Chris Brown”.

Click to watch Ambassador Gun play “Dynasty”.
Everyone was here to see The Crinn play their first show since the release of their debut album, Dreaming Saturn, which came on this week on Nuclear Blast (reviewed here). The lights were dimmed for a projector displaying psychedelic images, establishing a mood of alternate reality for the next 45 minutes. Listening to Dreaming Saturn leaves you wondering if The Crinn can pull off their feats of technical acrobatics live, but jaws dropped to the floor as the band attacked their instruments and showed that no studio tricks are required for them to level a stage, seemingly without effort. Following the pace of the album, no time was spent bantering between songs as each song blended into the next. Most, if not all, of Dreaming Saturn was played, and the crowd reacted with both a fledgling mosh pit and with people planted with eyes riveted to the guitar wizardry of Cole Leonard. The show closed with the first part of album-closing instrumental “Down, In Waves” leading into “Lucid Dream Field” before segueing back into “Down, In Waves”, sounding much heavier than the laid-back vibe of the album version. While bassist Chad White’s intricate playing could be easily heard, the vocals of John Nelson seemed to be buried under the rest of the band after the first couple of songs. Although the stage setting worked in a small club, the dim lights tended to be too dark (see the videos to understand what I mean). The only legitimate complaint I have is that live, these songs need to be broken up with introductions. Sonically, The Crinn is so dense and complex that the crowd needs occasional breaks to appreciate each song and remember what they’ve heard. Nevertheless, the show was a success and the local crowd was highly appreciative of their experimental, technical hardcore, and eager for more. The Crinn is equally impressive live as on record, and the right tour could help break this outstanding band into the metal mainstream conscience. Be sure to catch one of their next scheduled shows.
Click picture for more photos of The Crinn (26).

Click to watch The Crinn play “Incipience”.

Click to watch The Crinn play “Lucid Dream Field”.

Click to watch The Crinn play “Down, In Waves”.
Ambassador Gun plays at The Annex in Madison, WI on May 15 and Milwaukee, WI at The Rave on May 21 before their next Minneapolis show on Friday, July 16 at Hexagon Bar that kicks off a national tour.
The Crinn plays next on Saturday, May 29 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from Dead By Wednesday, We Are Legion, Expyre, This Will Not End Well, and She Fach Dahm. The Crinn then opens the night at The Rock in Maplewood on Saturday, July 24 supporting Soilwork with Death Angel, Augury, Mutiny Within, and Swashbuckle.
Out of state, The Crinn plays July 17 at Smoked Out Lounge in Michigan City, IN and is also part of the Soilwork/Death Angel bill at The Rave in Milwaukee, WI on July 23.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concert Review

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Saturday, April 24, 2010
State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

Despite plans to arrive at downtown Minneapolis’ grand State Theatre early, car troubles ensued and made me a few minutes late to my great annoyance. All anger faded away as I was escorted to my front row pit orchestra seat which had me seated directly in front of guitarist Chris Caffery and bassist Johnny Lee Middleton. Information about who was playing in the Beethoven’s Last Night touring company was scant, so it was awesome to see four members of Savatage onstage. In addition to Chris Caffery and Johnny Lee Middleton, guitarist Al Pitrelli was also musical director for the evening, and Jeff Plate sat back behind the drum kit. Nearly all of the two and a half show was devoted to turning the Beethoven’s Last Night album into a full-blown musical show. TSO followed their usual Christmas show format, playing the album with addition of their interpretation of classical music standards and an on-stage narrator who walked the audience through the story of Beethoven’s deafness, pleadings with the devil, and a mysterious musical manuscript. The stage production was over the top for a theater performance (impressive lighting, massive arched windows with light screens) but scaled back from their arena shows (no pyro, fewer props). Musically things were stripped down a bit, too, as two touring violinists were only accompanied by six local string musicians and there were fewer singers. Nevertheless, TSO puts on a stage spectacle like no other band, and the entire performance was nothing short of impressive. I let out a cheer when none other than vocalist extraordinaire Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Journey, others) strutted out on stage in his role as the devil to sing three or four throughout the evening. Following Beethoven’s Last Night the band rolled through their versions of Savatage classics “Prelude To Madness” and “Believe”. Although tonight’s show was the entire last lineup of Savatage with different singers and additional musicians, most of the audience of families, theater-types, and grandmothers would never know. A few in the know metalheads were present, so the concert was a special treat for Savatage fans that can live with the commercialization of the Savatage legacy. Aside from some of the between-song narrations being far too long, it was a treat seeing TSO in a theater setting and hopefully more non-Christmas tour outings are in the works.
Click picture for more photos of Trans-Siberian Orchestra (16).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Skid Row From The Vault

Say what you will about Skid Row, but Slave To The Grind is one of the heaviest albums to hit number one on the Billboard album chart. They were also never afraid of taking out the some the best opening bands. The top ticket was for a show at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque, Iowa with Pantera as the opening band, soon after the release of Vulgar Display Of Power. Pantera completely ripped the place up with a short 30 minute set of material primarily from Cowboys From Hell, including "Heresy", "Domination", and "Psycho Holiday". The band expresses much gratitude to Skid Row for having the balls to take them on tour. Skid Row was amazing that night, too, playing all the songs from their first two albums that you'd expect. Sebastian Bach is so incredibly underrated as a singer. I didn't make it to the earlier part of the Slave To The Grind tour with Soundgarden opening, unfortunately. The flyer is for the show at Palmer Auditorium in Davenport, Iowa. The only other time I've seen Skid Row was on the Subhuman Race tour at Memorial Hall in Kansas City with Souls At Zero. Not as good a show as the first time I saw them, but excellent nonetheless.
Skid Row will be appearing at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina on Friday, April 30. Support will come from Firehouse and Minneapolis' Downtread.
UPDATE: Here's a drumhead signed by drummer Rob Affuso that I caught when he threw it out from the stage at the May 31, 1992 show in Dubuque.

The Crinn Album Review

The Crinn – Dreaming Saturn
Nuclear Blast, 2010
After two EPs, St. Paul’s technical, progressive hardcore crew is now set to unleash their sonic mayhem worldwide with the release of their full-length debut on Nuclear Blast. The Crinn takes this style to new heights with unconventional guitar riffs and sounds, bizarre song structures, and a penchant for experimentation. Everything has improved from 2007’s self-titled EP, from song writing maturity to longer, more complex songs to dispensing with the snarky song titles. Dreaming Saturn nearly collapses under its own complexity, however, the track sequencing helps greatly to hold your attention. It’s nearly incomprehensible to grasp the full scope of Dreaming Saturn in a single listen or two, so be patient and allow your mind to absorb this with multiple plays. “Incipience” leads off the album, and builds slowly from a slow introduction into frenetic chaos before slowing back down with no loss of intensity. There’s little to no break between songs, and quickly one of the seven-plus minute tracks, “Anaphylactic Shock”, is upon you. This is one the best songs on the album, and it successfully integrates long, subdued passages that climax into neck-snapping jaunts. The other lengthy song, “Voluptuous Eruptions”, begins some dischordant scale exercises and leaps between crazy rhythms, free-form noodling, and even solid riffs reminiscent of Kyuss. The remainder of album is no less impressive, but the longer songs are given a chance to breathe and explore greater musical realms. Before you know it 40 minutes have gone by and the recovery process begins with the spaced-out closing instrumental “Down, In Waves”. On Dreaming Saturn The Crinn have laid out a roadmap for the future of experimental hardcore and can legitimately claim to be the rightful successors to Zao, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Between The Buried And Me. The bar for the genre has begun to be raised, and The Crinn have established themselves are a major contender.
The Crinn will be playing their Dreaming Saturn record release show at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis tonight, Saturday, April 23. Support will come from Ambassador Gun, Blue Ox, and Guzzlemug.
The next local appearance of The Crinn is Saturday, May 29 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from Dead By Wednesday, We Are Legion, Expyre, This Will Not End Well, and She Fach Dahm.
The Crinn then opens a diverse bill at The Rock in Maplewood on Saturday, July 24 supporting Soilwork with Death Angel, Augury, Mutiny Within, and Swashbuckle.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Old Savatage Tour Memorabilia

Trans-Siberian Orchestra hits Minneapolis tomorrow night, so here's some vintage Savatage tour memorabilia to get pumped up. First is a ticket stub from the first time I saw Savatage soon after the release of Gutter Ballet in 1990 while supporting Testament with Nuclear Assault at First Avenue in Minneapolis. A couple friends and I arrived from Iowa City in the early afternoon only to find the show sold out! The club had a sign posted at the door that 100 extra tickets would go on sale when the doors opened, so we stood outside all afternoon waiting. By the time the doors opened, a massive crowd stretched around the block and the front doors were nearly ripped off their hinges as we got crushed through the doorway. Savatage opened their set with "Sirens" and played a lot from Gutter Ballet including "Of Rage And War", "Gutter Ballet", and "Hounds" from what I remember.
Savatage must have come through Chicago at least six times in 1990, and I caught this show (flyer below) with Trouble and locals Mortar. I remember this show because Savatage played a lot of the more obscure tracks from Hall Of The Mountain King such as "Devastation" (absolutely crushing live), "Strange Wings", and "White Witch".
Last for this post is the set list from Savatage on January 29, 1992 at the Runway Club in Des Moines, Iowa on the Streets tour. My friend and I chatted a little bit with Jon Oliva when he came to the bar to do shots before the opening band played. This was my all-time favorite show from Savatage that I've seen - a very well-rounded set with some raging classics like "Power Of The Night", "Beyond The Doors Of The Dark", and "The Dungeons Are Calling". What's listed as Ballads on the set list was "Somewhere In Time" and "Believe", which has now been redone by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Opening the show was Minneapolis band Mad Atchu playing a set of all originals (they usually played covers with some originals thrown in).
Trans-Siberian Orchestra plays at the State Theatre in Minneapolis tomorrow, April 23.

Updates To Previous Posts

I unearthed another box of rock memorabilia goodies and wanted to start sharing some of it - lots of old flyers, ticket stubs, set lists, guitar picks, etc. I've updated a couple previous posts with some relevant materials. Go check these out!
Exodus concert - I added the flyer for the 1997 Kansas City show bootleg that was posted
Alice In Chains concert review - I added a couple old concert ads from the Dirt tour and a Jerry Cantrell-signed ticket stub from Layne Staley's last performance with Alice In Chains
Cannibal Corpse concert - A ticket stub from The Bleeding tour in Chicago was added. This was the same tour as the 1994 Des Moines show bootleg posted

The Angle Obscure Looking For New Guitarist

Technical hardcore visionaries from Minneapolis The Angle Obscure are currently searching for a new guitarist. The band can contacted directly at, and head on over to their Myspace blog for full submission and audition details. This apparently will not stop their current live schedule.
The Angle Obscure's next show is tonight, April 23, at Club Underground in Minneapolis with Myiasis, This Will Not End Well, and Cwn Annwn.

Cynic - Des Moines, IA, June 1994

Since I posted the video and audio of Cannibal Corpse from their June 1994 performance at the Two Rivers Music Hall in Des Moines, Iowa (view here), I thought It'd be shame not to post the performances of Cynic, Sinister, and Public Assassin from the same show. So here you get legendary progressive, technical death metal band Cynic playing nearly the entire godly Focus album.
The exact date of the recording is not known since this date was a late addition to the tour and is not listed on the official tour dates. Judging from the tour routing, Saturday, June 18 is the most likely date. A Saturday show would also be most likely since this was probably a matinee show due to the strength of the sunlight coming through the loading dock backstage. Although I'm not at liberty to disclose the taper, this is a first generation copy from the original source.
Here's the set list:
1. Veil Of Maya
2. I'm But A Wave To...
3. Textures
4. Uroboric Forms
5. The Eagle Nature
6. Sentiment
7. How Could I 
The video quality is excellent, aided by the fact that this was shot essentially in daylight. The audio quality isn't the best, but it's certainly very listenable. Probably a B overall. You can check out two of the songs here. Head on over to my YouTube channel to view the entire set. The txt file linked below has the download links for all video files (mov, H.264, 640 x 480) as well as the audio files as MP3 (320 kbps) or FLAC. 
If you want to share the download links, please link to this blog post!

UPDATE:  Here are new links to download the videos for "I'm But A Wave To..." and "How Could I".
"I'm But A Wave To...":
"How Could I":

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Finntroll, Moonsorrow, And Swallow The Sun Concert Review

Finntroll, Moonsorrow, Swallow The Sun, Minos
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Station 4, St. Paul, MN
Death metal outfit Survivors Zero was supposed to round out the Finnish Metal Tour, but delays in approval of their work visas forced them to pull out of the entire tour. Stepping in to open the show was Rochester’s Minos, a relatively new folk metal band. This was their first show with new drummer James Hamersly, but unfortunately I arrived right as the band was walking off the stage.
This was Swallow The Sun’s second appearance at Station 4, and this larger crowd was much more enthusiastic and familiar with the band. Somehow promoter The SwordLord convinced both Swallow The Sun and Moonsorrow to perform longer than usual sets, so Swallow The Sun absolutely crushed the stage for nearly an hour with their powerful, emotional doom. The band’s imposing stage presence matches the mood of their music, and they ripped through a nice selection of New Moon. “Sleepless Swans” and “These Woods Breathe Evil” sat well alongside older songs such as “Descending Winters” and “Plague Of Butterflies”. The set ended with “Swallow”, with its devastating riffs having the impact of an aural sledgehammer. Don’t miss them when they’re back in town in September with Katatonia. Go here to read the review of Swallow The Sun’s latest album, New Moon.
Click picture for more photos of Swallow The Sun (15).

Click to watch Swallow The Sun play “Sleepless Swans”.

Click to watch Swallow The Sun play “Swallow”.

Click to watch Swallow The Sun play “Plague Of Butterflies”.
Moonsorrow turned out to be the biggest surprise of the night, as the folksy elements of their black metal sound were toned down on stage under the weight of the guitars. I don’t know who can remember the tongue-garbling Finnish names of their songs, but the band played a full hour’s worth of career-spanning selections. Their show is both entertaining and impressive for the high level of intensity maintained throughout their lengthy songs. Judging from the amount of merchandise sold, Moonsorrow has built a dedicated fan based in town and it’s easy to see why. Seeing Moonsorrow live gave me newfound appreciation for the band, they are certainly one of the best folk-style metal bands out there.
Click picture for more photos of Moonsorrow (14).

Click to watch Moonsorrow play “Köyliönjärven Jäällaä”.
Finntroll certainly had a challenge ahead in matching the performance of Swallow The Sun and Moonsorrow. They were the most energetic and on stage tonight, but their heavy folk influences simply don’t interest me that much. The crowd was clearly here to see Finntroll so their headlining status was warranted. Like Moonsorrow, all of Finntroll’s songs are sung in Finnish so titles of songs that were performed escape me. Finntroll seemed to playing in top form, but I quickly lost interest in their style. Nevertheless, the audience response was huge for this band and there’s a large contingent of people whose opinion of Finntroll differs from mine.
Click picture for more photos of Finntroll (9).
The SwordLord, promoter for this concert, interviewed members of Finntroll and Moonsorrow at the venue and featured the conversation was featured on the Root Of All Evil radio show on KFAI. Head on over to The SwordLord’s Myspace blog for details on how to listen to this insightful interview!
Swallow The Sun will be returning to Station 4 in St. Paul as direct support to Sweden’s Katatonia on Saturday, September 18. Additional support will come from Israel’s Orphaned Land and Minneapolis Sleazy Rider Records recording artist Cold Colours.

Hypocrisy Album Review

Hypocrisy – A Taste Of Extreme Divinity
Nuclear Blast, 2009
The long-running death metal project of Swedish guitarist and producer Peter Tägtgren is back with their 11th album. Some characterize the recent Hypocrisy output as melodic death metal, but this is much heavier. Some riffs are slowed down a bit and the production is clear, but the sound is molten and the vocals are heavy growls. There’re no juvenile breakdowns and silly, off-key clean vocals like other melodic Swedish death metal bands (see recent Soilwork). Opener “Valley Of The Damned” gets right down to business with furious guitar riffs and tight, blistering drum work. The tempo is slowed down for “Hang Him High” and “Solar Empire” before the frenetic pace of “Weed Out The Weak”. Two more slow songs, “No Tomorrow” and “Global Domination”, are presented, then “Taste The Extreme Divinity” takes over with bludgeoning blast beats befitting the song’s title. This pattern of a couple slower songs followed by a fast track closes out the album, with two of this bunch, “Alive” and “Sky Is Falling Down” among the best of the album. A heavy, down-tuned bonus track, “The Sinner”, comes with the electronic and digipak versions of the album. With A Taste Of Extreme Divinity, Hypocrisy succeeds in delivering a monstrously heavy yet varied Swedish death metal album. For those that think the likes of Soilwork and In Flames have strayed too far from their death and thrash metal roots, A Taste Of Extreme Divinity will seem like a revelation. Hypocrisy’s sound has evolved enough to please both new and old fans of the band. A point can be made that no new ground is broken here, but I’m satisfied with enjoying this album while reminiscing about what made Swedish death metal so exciting in the first place.
Hypocrisy will be appearing at Station 4 in St. Paul on Sunday, May 23. Support will come from Scar Symmetry, Hate, Blackguard, and Swashbuckle.

1349 May 1 Concert In Doubt

Norwegian black metal band 1349 posted a statement on their Myspace blog on April 20 stating that they will be miss several dates of their North American tour supporting Cannibal Corpse due to them not yet being able to secure their work visas. This throws into question whether the band will be able to join the tour in time when it rolls through Station 4 in St. Paul on Saturday, May 1. I'll post further information about this when news becomes available.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Echoterra Announces First Headlining Show

New symphonic metal sensations from Minneapolis, Echoterra, have announced their first headlining show to take place Friday, May 21 at 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis. The band will debut some new songs that have already been written for their second album slated for release early next year. Support will come from female-fronted Minneapolis bands Alation and Hollowstone. Echoterra keyboardist Jonah Weingarten will also be performing a solo set featuring music of his piano-based instrumental project Dance Of The Mourning Child.
Since the addition of classically trained vocalist Melissa Ferlaack, Echoterra released the In Your Eyes EP with re-recorded versions of songs from The Law Of One debut album. The EP and album were reviewed here and here, respectively. Echoterra's first live performance took place in support of Epica in St. Paul on February 6, and the concert review with pictures and video are available here. The band also recently announced that they have teamed up with 2Wild4 Productions for European management and booking.
Echoterra will also be performing Saturday, May 22 at the 2nd Earl Root Memorial Concert, with all proceeds benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Coheed And Cambria Album Review

Coheed And Cambria – Year Of The Black Rainbow
Columbia, 2010
I’ll confess ignorance in never having heard Coheed And Cambria before, but hopefully my analysis of the new Year Of The Black Rainbow opus will be fair since this seems to have divided longtime fans. I was intrigued to give this a listen since the band is generally regarded as having moved into progressive rock territory. If you’re like me, progressive rock brings to mind Yes, Porcupine Tree, and Dream Theater, so Coheed And Cambria won’t be considered a progressive band by most. Experimental rock would be a better description. Many aspects of Year Of The Black Rainbow are truly beautiful, but the lack of a consistent sound dogs the record. “The Broken” is an amazing track to start the album, and the chorus contains some cool guitar tones that harken back to some of the distinctive guitar work of English bands like The Cure and Psychedelic Furs. Another favorite is “Made Out Of Nothing (All That I Am)”, a memorable pop song that is sure to be a future single. The subdued tones of “Pearl Of The Stars” and “The Black Rainbow” also work well, and these really show what great songwriting ability the band has. The remainder of the album isn’t nearly as impressive. “World Of Lines” and “Guns Of Summer” unleash the heavier side of Coheed And Cambria, but their pop-like melodies strip away all of the underlying anger. Fancy studio tricks bog down “Here We Are Juggernaut” and “Far”, with the over-processed drums becoming an annoyance. Another gripe is the occasionally annoying vocals of Claudio Sanchez. At times the Mike Patton-style whine sounds contrived and overdone. I can’t say how Year Of The Black Rainbow fits into the rest of the Coheed And Cambria catalog, but the band still sounds like they’re experimenting stylistically which cuts both ways here. The dynamics and melodies of the best songs give them a huge, grand sound, however, the inconsistency of a good half of the record sinks any hope of legendary glory.
Coheed And Cambria will be appearing at First Avenue in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 13. Support will come from Circa Survive and Torche.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Des Moines, IA, June 1994

Legendary death metal band Cannibal Corpse will be playing Saturday, May 1 at Station 4 in St. Paul with 1349, Skeletonwitch, and Lecherous Nocturne. To get ready for this show I've got for you here a classic Cannibal Corpse show with Chris Barnes from The Bleeding tour in June 1994 at the Two Rivers Music Hall in Des Moines, Iowa.
The exact date of the recording is not known since this date was a late addition to the tour and is not listed on the official tour dates. Judging from the tour routing, Saturday, June 18 is the most likely date. A Saturday show would also be most likely since this was probably a matinee show due to the strength of the sunlight coming through the loading dock backstage. Although I'm not at liberty to disclose the taper, this is a first generation copy from the original source.
Here's the set list:
1. Staring Through The Eyes Of The Dead
2. Fucked With A Knife
3. Stripped, Raped And Strangled
4. Put Them To Death
5. I Cum Blood
6. Vomit The Soul
7. Entrails Ripped From A Virgin's Cunt
8. Pulverized
9. Covered With Sores
10. Shredded Humans
11. Force Fed Broken Glass
12. An Experiment In Homicide
13. A Skull Full Of Maggots
14. Gutted
15. Hammer Smashed Face
The video quality is excellent, aided by the fact that this was shot essentially in daylight. The audio quality isn't the best, but it's certainly very listenable. Probably a B overall. You can check out two of the songs here. Head on over to my YouTube channel to view the entire set. The txt file listed below has the download links for all video files (mov, H.264, 640 x 480) as well as the audio files as MP3 (320 kbps) or FLAC.
I'll post the performances of the opening sets from Cynic, Sinister, and Public Assassin soon!

UPDATE: Here's the ticket stub from this same Cannibal Corpse/Cynic/Sinister tour that I went to in Chicago.

Fair To Midland, Karnivool, Something To Burn, Samsahra, Severah Concert Review

Fair To Midland, Karnivool, Something To Burn, Samsahra, Severah
Monday, April 12, 2010
The Rock, Maplewood, MN
Two local bands I was seeing for the first time, Severah and Samsahra, drew an impressive number of people to the show early for a weekday night. The Rock was already quite full when Severah took the stage, and the audience responded well to their set of heavy, melodic rock. Singer Aaron Dahl sounds better than most local singers, and his voices fits the music well.
Click picture for more photos of Severah (11).
Samsahra was a bit more intense and heavy, and also got the still-growing crowd engaged. These were two of the best local openers I’ve seen in a while, so it felt worthwhile to have gotten to a show early for once.
Click picture for more photos of Samsahra (15).

Click to watch Samsahra play “Lost In Transition”.
Next up was Something To Burn who greeted the crowd by acknowledging that almost no one knew they were on the bill. The band is signed to Scott Weiland’s vanity label, Softdrive Records, and they wasted little time blazing through their six-song set. The audience was clearly unfamiliar with Something To Burn, but the band seemed to take this as a challenge as they played selections from their debut album such as “Start Again”, “Now & Forever”, and “Lie To Me”. Their polished hard rock sound went over well, and the audience was cheering loudly as the set closed with their latest single, “Say Goodbye”.
Click picture for more photos of Something To Burn (18).
Chants of “KARN-I-VOOL!” filled the air as Australia’s progressive hard rock masters took the stage with the subdued “Simple Boy”, the lead track from their latest album Sound Awake. All the best songs from Sound Awake were played to perfection with the energy that only a live show can bring. The epic “New Day” and “Goliath” were simply stunning, and Ian Kenny’s voice sounded in prime form as he effortlessly sang all the high notes. A couple songs from Themata including “Roquefort” were thrown in, but tonight’s really showcased Sound Awake. The emotional “All I Know” was another apex in the show, and “Set Fire To The Hive” reminded everyone that Karnivool is quite heavy-sounding at times, too. “Themata” ended the 45-mintute set, and it was clear from the crowd’s enthusiasm that they wanted much more. Samples and technology tricks are definitely a part of Karnivool’s sound, but these were kept to a minimum. The extensive roadwork of Karnivool showed, as the whole band sounded tight and well-polished. Singer Kenny has an interesting on stage persona, and combines robotic movements with controlled expressions. The feeling I had was the same after seeing Dream Theater play in a club to 50 people, and I imagine that it’s only a matter of time before Karnivool is playing larger venues. This is a band destined for great things.
Click picture for more photos of Karnivool (48).

Click to watch Karnivool play “All I Know”.
I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Fair To Midland, but I must say that you have to see the band to understand their quirky sound. I was surprised at how heavy this band really can be, and their show is a tsunami of energy. Most people I talked with at the show had seen Fair To Midland before, and it’s easy to see why they have a dedicated fan base that keeps coming back. “Walls Of Jericho” and “Dance Of The Manatee” were part of the set, but being unfamiliar with their catalog has me at a disadvantage of taking you through the set list. Let’s just say that Fair To Midland sounds much, much better live than their studio work would lead you to believe and their show is definitely impressive and entertaining.
Click picture for more photos of Fair To Midland (19).
I sat down for a chat over a beer with Karnivool guitarist Drew Goddard and drummer Steve Judd before their show, so stay tuned for a posting of this insightful interview soon! If you missed it, check out my review of Sound Awake here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Arsis Album Review

Arsis – Starve For The Devil
Nuclear Blast, 2010
Starve For The Devil is the fourth album from Virginia Beach’s Arsis, and the band is now poised to become legitimate contenders for the technical thrash/death metal crown in the new decade. Given the revolving door membership around main man James Malone throughout the years there’s always an aura of uncertainly about what to expect. Although Arsis’s sound has progressed into thrash metal ground, the intricate guitar and bass work at the start of opener “Forced To Rock” makes it clear that Arsis is on the cusp of something special. The thrash grooves continue with “A March For The Sick”, the intensity never lets go through other standouts such as “Beyond Forlorn” and “The Ten Of Swords”. The death metal roots of the band come back to the fore near the end of the album, particularly with “Sable Rising”, “Half Past Couple O’Clock”, and “A Pound Of Flesh”. It could be argued that Starve For The Devil is no great musical advance, but where the album shines is in sheer enjoyment and technical proficiency. Most death metal album are difficult to listen to in one sitting, but listening to Starve For The Devil actually has me eagerly anticipating the next song. The other pleasant revelation for me is the profound influence of the technical guitar style of Jeff Waters of Annihilator on Arsis. The influence is subtle, but it sure is deep. Many songs left me with the impression that this is how Jeff Waters would write a death metal album. 2006’s We Are The Nightmare left many fans cold, but Starve For The Devil is a strong, impressive statement that Arsis can no longer be ignored.
See my previous post here for a review and pictures from Arsis’ recent show at The Rock in Maplewood while supporting Arch Enemy and Exodus.
Arsis will be appearing at The Rock in Maplewood on Monday, May 24 as direct support to Dying Fetus. Additional support will come from Misery Index, Conducting From The Grave, and Annotations Of An Autopsy.

Slash Album Review

Slash – Slash
EMI, 2010
Although former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash has released a couple albums under the Slash’s Snakepit moniker, Slash is being regarded as his first true solo album. A revolving door of musicians and singers were employed for the recordings. Each song features a different singer except for Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy, who sings on two of the tracks. Other luminaries present here are a surprisingly diverse group from across the rock and pop world, including Ozzy Osbourne, Kid Rock, Lemmy, and Fergie, among others. Albums full of guest musicians are never as great as their impressive credentials may lead one to believe, usually due to inconsistent styles. Slash succeeds in this regard more than most solo albums of this type. Most of the songs are middle-of-the-road heavy rock that generally do not disappoint unless you are expecting this to sound like Guns N’ Roses, which this does not. The other general impression is that each vocalist is singing to fit the track. That is, it does not seem that each track was written to fit the style of the singer. This really seems to be the reason Slash largely succeeds as a solo album. All of the singers perform admirably, even on “Beautiful Dangerous”, the much-maligned collaboration with Fergie of Black Eyed Peas. The clear highlight is “Nothing To Say”, one of the heaviest songs ever written by Slash that features M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold). Other strong tracks are the acoustic “Saint Is A Sinner Too”, featuring singer Rocco DeLuca, instrumental “Watch This” (Dave Grohl and Duff McKagan), and By The Sword (Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother). The only true stinker here is “I Hold One” with Kid Rock with its annoying chorus of female backup singers. Overall, though, Slash is an artistically satisfying solo album that breaks free of the usual curse when too many musicians and singers are involved with a record. Slash’s abilities as a songwriter and guitarist really shine through without being overshadowed by the impressive list of collaborators. The touring band will feature Myles Kennedy on vocals, so it will be interesting to hear his interpretation of both these songs and the Guns N’ Roses catalog.
Slash will be appearing at Northern Lights Casino in Walker on Friday, May 21.