Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Angle Obscure Album Review

The Angle Obscure – Silence Is Our Canvas
Self-released, 2009
The Angle Obscure is without a doubt one of the most original bands from The Cities. They follow the lead of experimental, technical hardcore bands like Between The Buried And Me, but Silence Is Our Canvas has this cool, laid-back stoner rock vibe that permeates the songs. Organ is used throughout many of the six songs, half of which are over eight minutes long. The songs are paced well, and nothing feels rushed as the band jams through solo after solo in the lengthy tracks. The hardcore label is a bit misleading, because the group owes more to bands such as Karma To Burn, Clutch, and Nebula. Songs are mid-tempo based, and “Gravity Pulls” pushes the limits of the speed and heaviness of the album. The mellowest song of the album, “Point Of Transition”, is really where The Angle Obscure shines. A neat little riff leads into a righteous groove, which then transitions into some guitar noodling cast over a haunting bass line. Technicality comes into play with the guitar solos, which are numerous and lengthy. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear young bands embrace the art of soloing. Another favorite is the opening track, “Inner City Blues”, which covers a lot of musical ground over its nine minutes. This is music meant to be listened to loud while you zone out, absorbing the vast complexity of sounds and styles. The harsh, screamed vocals are definitely going to put some people off, but I enjoy their contrast to the structured, ordered sense of the album. The Angle Obscure is already hard at work on a new album, and I can’t wait see how the band further develops their sound. This band should definitely be getting some label attention, and they would be a fantastic addition to a label that embraces eclectic music such as Relapse, Victory, Prosthetic, or Tee Pee. Half of the album is available for streaming on the band’s MySpace page, and I would click over there now and start with “Point Of Transition”. A better option is to just download the entire album from Amazon, where it’s a steal for $6. The Angle Obscure is off to an impressive start with Silence Is Our Canvas, and they are well-deserving of wider exposure.
The Angle Obscure plays at Station 4 in St. Paul on Friday, May 28 with Rivkit, Tears Of Ash, Reaping Asmodia, and Debbie Does Malice.
The Angle Obscure’s next appearance is Wednesday, June 23 at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis while supporting Cage with Dawn Of Valor and Avalon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Echoterra And Alation Concert Review

Echoterra and Alation
Friday, May 21, 2010
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis, MN
Arriving soon after Minneapolis-based Alation took the stage, I unfortunately missed Hollowstone and Dance Of The Mourning Child, the project of Echoterra and Pyramaze keyboardist Jonah Weingarten. This was my first time seeing Alation and I was immediately blown away by talent and presence of this young band. They play a style of modern-sounding, technical thrash metal that grabs your attention. Vocalist Angel is a powerful force on stage, and she channels her aggression and original singing style into a great stage presence. Guitarists Stu and Sawyer, meanwhile, traded off and paired up on some leads and solos. All four songs from their excellent demo were played, along with the new song “Aflame”. I have no doubts that Alation will be a band that you’ll be hearing a lot more about! A review of their four-song demo will be posted soon, but go check it out for yourself on Alation’s MySpace page. Be sure to watch the video for “Aflame”, an awesome song that captures the essence of the band.
Click picture to see more photos of Alation (23)
Click to watch Alation play “Aflame”
Tonight was the first headlining (and second) show of symphonic power metal band Echoterra, so it was great to see the Entry filled with a responsive crowd. This was a 50 minute, 10 song set that was nearly evenly split between songs from the The Law Of One debut album and a batch of new tunes revealed for the first time. The band made a grand entrance with “Manifest Eternity” and “The Will Of Life” before launching into “A Tear Of Her Heart”. This was followed by two new songs, “After The Rain” and “All The Lies”. The new songs are definitely expanding Echoterra’s sound into faster, more aggressive territory. Vocalist Melissa Ferlaak (and the entire band, for that matter) was clearly having fun on stage, and she introduced “Beyond The Seven Seas” as their “pirate song”. Another new song, “Midnight Sun”, featured some strong backing vocals from bassist Brian Hollenbeck. A fourth new track, “Ghost Within My Heart” was introduced, and Brian again took a prominent singing role in the performance of “Say, Try, Lie, Die”. The set ended with “In Your Eyes”, one of highlights from The Law Of One, to resounding applause. Every member of Echoterra has extensive experience in bands such as Pyramaze, Avian, Visions Of Atlantis, and Into Eternity, and their level of professionalism is unrivaled in the Twin Cities. Keyboardist Jonah Weingarten is fun to watch as he effortlessly rips through solos, and Yan Leviathan (guitars) does a fantastic job of taking over on the heavier songs, yet stepping back to let Jonah’s playing shine. Melissa has a very strong voice, and she has a knack for engaging the crowd while hitting every note on cue. The band members had a lot of reasons to be happy at the success of this show as they met with fans afterwards. Echoterra is poised to make a big impact internationally, the band promises that some big announcements with regards to touring and their next album will be forthcoming. Hopefully some more local appearances will be announced, too!
Click picture to see more photos of Echoterra (35)
Click to watch Echoterra open the show with “Manifest Eternity/The Will Of Life”
Click to watch Echoterra play the new song “After The Rain”
Click to watch Echoterra play “Say, Try, Lie, Die”
Videos of Echoterra performing “Midnight Sun” and “In Your Eyes” can be viewed on my YouTube channel.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Paul Gray (1972-2010)

Undoubtedly you've seen the news that Paul Gray, bassist for Slipknot, was found dead in a Des Moines area hotel on Monday, May 24. This really saddened me in a way that the recent passing of Peter Steele and Ronnie James Dio didn't because I had been an acquaintance of Paul's in the band's early days. Paul was always very kind and polite anytime I talked with him. I saw Slipknot perform a few times in Des Moines and once in Kansas City during 1996-1998, and became good friends with one of the band members although we've unfortunately lost touch over the years. This band member and I used to hang out in his apartment and trade death metal CDs and video bootlegs. I've got a large collection of old Slipknot photos that I'll try to get scanned and posted. I'll also dig out an interview I conducted with Paul in 1998 - this was the first interview that the band gave for a non-local (Des Moines) publication. For now, here's an early promotional picture of Slipknot from 1997 with former members Greg "Cuddles" Welts and Josh Brainard. Below that is a 1999 promotional shot featuring all of the members we're familiar with that the entire band signed for me.
Rest in peace, Paul. God bless your family and friends as they struggle through this difficult time.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Big Four Simulcast From Sonisphere Festival

To allow fans worldwide to experience The Big Four (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax) European festival dates this summer, portions of all four bands' sets from the Sonisphere Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria will be broadcast by satellite to movie theaters across North America, Europe, and Latin America on June 22. Broadcast times and ticket charges vary by region. For more details, including a list of participating theaters and how to buy tickets, check out The Big Four website. Here a list of Twin Cities area theaters that will be broadcasting the event:
Block E, Minneapolis
Showplace Theatre, Minneapolis
Eagan 16, Eagan
AMC Rosedale 14, Roseville
AMC Eden Prairie 18, Eden Prairie
Brooklyn Center 20, Minneapolis
Oakdale Cinema, St. Paul
Movies 8, Mankato
Parkwood 18 Theatre, Waite Park

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Deftones Album Review

Deftones – Diamond Eyes
Reprise, 2010
After an aborted album, Eros, and the devastating accident that left bassist Chi Cheng in a semi-comatose state, it’s a wonder that Deftones have managed to soldier on with the sixth album. Diamond Eyes finds Deftones furthering their descent into emo rock that finds little resemblance to the band that emerged with Adrenaline in 1994. While I respect the band for their bravery in developing their sound, I find myself enjoying each album less than the prior one. The sound here is more polished and dynamic than ever before. “Rocket Skates” maintains some aggression, but the rough edges that were still present on Saturday Night Wrist and the self-titled album have been stripped away for a cleaner and less heavy sound. A suitable analogy would be the evolution of COC’s sound. Listen to either the Deftones or COC catalog in chronological order and the development of their sounds away from humble beginnings makes sense. Play America’s Volume Dealer after Blind, or Diamond Eyes after Adrenaline, however, and you wonder what the heck happened. Diamond Eyes isn’t necessarily a bad record, but the mellow tones of “Sextape” and “976-EVIL” will leave some people cold. It’s a matter of perspective – if you are a fan of recent Deftones albums you’ll likely enjoy Diamond Eyes, but if you’re hoping for some new-found aggression you’ll be very disappointed. The album is a logical progression from Saturday Night Wrist, but it’s one that I’m disappointed to see the band take. It remains to be seen if Diamond Eyes will represent an anomaly in the Deftones catalog or whether it signals a full shift away from their hardcore metal roots.
Deftones will be appearing at First Avenue in Minneapolis on Monday, May 24. No support bands have been announced at this time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Limp Bizkit From The Vault

Wow, the level of interest in the Limp Bizkit video is beyond what I would have ever expected! I thought I'd follow this up with some Limp Bizkit memorabilia from 1997 and 1998. First is a pass that I was given at the July 14, 1997 Kansas City CD signing.
Next up is a flyer and ticket stub for a Deftones show that Limp Bizkit supported later that year at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas (December 12, 1997). I think Will Haven actually canceled their performance that night. This is pretty cool because not many promoters commission artists to draw unique, original flyers for concerts anymore.
Last is a photo pass from the first Family Values Tour Limp Bizkit did with Korn, Rammstein, Ice Cube, and Orgy. This show took place at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri on October 22, 1998. Unfortunately none of my Limp Bizkit photos from that night turned out very well, so I won't post any of them.
Limp Bizkit announced yesterday that they have canceled all of their U.S. headlining shows scheduled for this summer. This does not affect festival dates, including their stop at Rock Fest. Their appearance at Rock Fest is one of only three U.S. shows that will take place until the fall and winter.
Limp Bizkit will be playing at Rock Fest in Cadott, Wisconsin on Sunday, July 18 with Alice In Chains, Drowning Pool, Trapt, Sleeper Cell, and Black Valentyne.
UPDATE: I forgot that I also saw Limp Bizkit on their very first tour before Three Dollar Bill, Y'all$ was released in 1996. This show was with Korn, The Urge, and Delinquent Habit on October 16, 1996 at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas. Limp Bizkit got a great crowd response and I remember Fred Durst throwing demo or sampler tapes into the crowd.
UPDATE X 2: Below is a signed promo picture and interior of the Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ CD booklet. These were both signed at the 7th Heaven Records event in Kansas City on July 14, 1997.

Echoterra Contest And Show Reminder

Don't forget about your chance to win tickets to tonight's Echoterra show and copies of their In Your Eyes EP! Send your name and city to by noon today. See my previous post for full details.

Kiss and Forbidden Concert Announcements

Kiss just announced a performance on Saturday, September 4 at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at noon through Ticketmaster.
Reunited Bay Area thrash master Forbidden will headline a show at Station 4 in St. Paul on Monday, November 29 with Evile, Gama Bomb, and Bonded By Blood.

Album Review Recap

There's at least one show on the concert calendar (below right) every night for the rest of May, so I thought it'd be useful to provide handy links to recent album reviews for many of these bands. There's some great bands coming to town, so hopefully you have a chance to catch a couple of these!
Echoterra plays their first headlining show tonight, Friday, May 21 at 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis with Alation, Hollowstone, and Dance Of The Mourning Child. The band will also perform Saturday, May 22 at Station 4 in St. Paul as part of the Earl Root Memorial Metal Massacre 2 fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Read the review of Echoterra's first performance (with pictures and video) while supporting Epica with Threat Signal, Blackguard, and Gracepoint

Slash with Myles Kennedy singing plays tonight, Friday, May 21 at Northern Lights Casino in Walker, Minnesota.
Hypocrisy, Scar Symmetry, and Blackguard will perform with Hate and Swashbuckle on Sunday, May 23 at Station 4 in St. Paul.
Read the review of Blackguard's recent show (with pictures and video) while supporting Epica with Threat Signal, Echoterra, and Gracepoint.
Arsis, Misery Index, and Annotations Of An Autopsy will be supporting Dying Fetus with Demonicon on Monday, May 24 at The Rock in Maplewood.
Read the review of Arsis's recent show (with pictures) while supporting Arch Enemy and Exodus.
Breaking Benjamin will support Nickelback with Shinedown and Sick Puppies at Target Center in Minneapolis on Monday, May 24.
The Crinn headlines the bill on Saturday, May 29 at Station 4 in St. Paul with Dead By Wednesday, We Are Legion, Expyre, This Will Not End Well, and She Fach Dahm.
Read the review of The Crinn's Dreaming Saturn record release show with Ambassador Gun.
Primal Fear plays on Sunday, May 30 at Station 4 in St. Paul with Havok, Avian, and Dawn Of Valor.
Read the review of Primal Fear's show at Minnesota MetalFest last year with Athiest, Novembers Doom, Destroy Destroy Destroy, Gnostic, Avian, and Gracepoint.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Korn Tickets Still Available For Rochester Show Tonight

If you missed out on the chance to see Korn on their Ballroom Blitz tour of smaller venues at First Avenue Monday night (the show was instantly sold out), tickets are still available to see them tonight in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Civic Center Auditorium. Both general admission floor and reserved seats are still available. If you live in the south metro area, it only takes an hour to get to Rochester. The show starts at 7:30, and the support bands are 2Cents, Stillwell, and Big Jay Oakerson.

Limp Bizkit - July 14, 1997, Kansas City, MO

Limp Bizkit - 1997-07-14, Kansas City, MO, 7th Heaven
Video and Audio, 27 minutes
It seems difficult to remember that there once was a time when Limp Bizkit was not openly scorned and ridiculed like no band since Winger (despite their huge album sales). To give them credit, their debut album Three Dollar Bill, Yall$ was quite innovative at the time when rap-rock or nu-metal was emerging. This Ross Robinson-produced effort was much more raw then later albums, with a gritty, rough guitar sound. What I have for you here is the earliest full-length live recording of Limp Bizkit known to exist! The quality of both the audio and video of this recording is a solid A. This was a free in-store performance in the parking lot of 7th Heaven Records in Kansas City on an off date on the early part of their first tour as part of the 1997 Warped Tour. The show was preceded by an album signing session inside the store. Limp Bizkit was very cordial and friendly with everyone and spent a lot of time talking to their fans. Aimee Echo from Human Waste Project (and later TheSTART) was dating guitarist Wes Borland at the time and she also hung out during the signing. This event took place less than two weeks after the release of Three Dollar Bill, Yall$, and captures the band during a time when they were just trying to make it like any other baby band. I remember seeing Fred Durst walking around the tents at the Warped Tour show the next day in Lawrence, Kansas and nobody knew who he was or would give him the time of day! It's pretty funny to hear Durst announcing to the crowd while introducing "Counterfeit" that "we're at the Days Inn in Lawrence, Kansas, know what I'm sayin'?" He also tackles bassist Sam Rivers while playing during the end of "Faith" and drop-kicks the drum kit. Their first full-length album with guitarist Wes Borland in ten years, Gold Cobra, should be released this summer while playing a number of festival dates. The link for downloading the audio and video of the complete show is below.
Click to watch Limp Bizkit play "Counterfeit".
Click to watch Limp Bizkit play "Faith".
Set list:
1. Counterfeit
2. Nobody Loves Me
3. Pollution
4. Stuck
5. Faith
Feel free to share, but please link to this posting rather than distributing the link to the text file above.
Limp Bizkit will be playing at Rock Fest in Cadott, Wisconsin on Sunday, July 18 with Alice In Chains, Drowning Pool, Trapt, Sleeper Cell, and Black Valentyne.

UPDATE: I'm pleased to see the huge positive response this post has quickly generated online, and there's already a discussion thread about this show on the website. Thanks! Go check it out: I thought I'd address some of the initial comments I've seen. This is the oldest full-length Limp Bizkit show I've seen online after some pretty exhaustive searches. If anyone knows of any older footage please let me know! I've only embedded two of the videos here, but go to my YouTube channel and you can view videos for all five songs if you don't want to download them. I was 25 years old when I shot this. I also have some old Limp Bizkit memorabilia (passes, concert flyers, signed CD, ticket stubs) from around this time that I'll try to post soon. Keep checking back!
UPDATE X 2: I've now posted some Limp Bizkit memorabilia (passes, concert flyer, ticket stub) from 1997 and 1998. Check in out here. Thanks to Marcelo, webmaster for The Armpit, the largest Limp Bizkit fan site community for his comment alerting me that he posted links and the video on the main news site of The Armpit. Some comments in their forum speculates that the band or record label is responsible for posting this footage. That is not true, and I am not (and never was) associated with the band or label in any capacity. I taped this show myself on a VHS-C camcorder, and digitized it directly from the master tape. The reason this footage has never been circulated is that I never was one to participate in the tape-trading world. I've moved too many times to count over the last ten years, and this tape sat in a box with my VCR and a large pile of shows I recorded around 1997–1999. I've only now had the luxury of time to start digitizing them. I decided to post it now because Limp Bizkit has a show coming up in the area in July.

Annotations Of An Autopsy Album Review

Annotations Of An Autopsy – II: The Reign Of Darkness
Nuclear Blast, 2010
Geez, for all the hype and high praise this English death metal band receives I expected a lot more than this. Riffs are heavy and chunky with slow, sludge-like riffs over never-ending double-bass drums and blast beats. There’s definitely some influence from Obituary being brought to the fore at times. I simply don’t see anything that sets Annotations Of An Autopsy apart from a thousand other death metal hopefuls. The songs are executed well, but three songs in and each song sounds like the last. Call me underwhelmed and unimpressed.
Annotations Of An Autopsy will be appearing at The Rock in Maplewood on Monday, May 24 as support to Dying Fetus. Additional support will come from Arsis, Misery Index, and Conducting From The Grave.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cynic Returns To St. Paul

Innovative, progressive death metal band Cynic will return to Station 4 in St. Paul on Friday, July 30. Presumably this is part of a tour that has yet to be officially announced. After an absence from the scene for many years, the influential band released Traced In Air in 2009. The album was received enthusiastically, and this year saw the release of the Re-Traced EP which features reworked versions of four songs and one new song, "Wheels Within Wheels". Their last appearance at Station 4 while supporting Meshuggah in February 2009 was unfortunately disappointing. Cynic's sound was so bass-heavy and distorted that it was nearly impossible to enjoy the songs.
I previously posted the video and audio of a full-length classic Cynic concert from June 1994 in Des Moines. This was the only US tour done to support Focus while they were opening for Cannibal Corpse. Check out "Veil Of Maya" as go to my earlier post to download the entire show.
Cynic will be performing at Station 4 in St. Paul on Friday, July 30. Support will come from Intronaut and Dysrhythmia.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Echoterra Contest And New Songs Titles For Debut Headlining Concert

Rising Minneapolis-based symphonic metal sensation Echoterra has exclusively revealed to Twin Cities Metal the titles of four new songs that will be performed at their debut headlining concert this Friday, May 21 at the iconic 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Additionally, Echoterra and Twin Cities Metal have joined forces for a contest to mark this special concert.
This will be the first time the public will have a chance to hear the songs “Midnight Sun”, “After The Rain”, “The Ghost Within My Heart”, and “All The Lies”. Guitarist Yan Leviathan (Avian) explains that “we want to deliver a special performance at our first headlining show, so this is our fans’ chance to hear the new songs that we’ve been working on with our new vocalist, Melissa (Ferlaak, ex-Visions Of Atlantis, Aesma Daeva). The band is excited about the heavier direction of the new material we’ve written, and we can’t wait to get feedback from our hometown crowd!”
To mark the occasion Echoterra and Twin Cities Metal are proud to jointly sponsor a contest for all fans, both local to Minneapolis and across the country and world. Four  (4) fans will have the chance to win the following:
Two (2) Twin Cities area fans will receive two (2) tickets to the May 21 concert at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis and an autographed, color Echoterra card with a key to download unrestricted mp3 files of the acclaimed In Your Eyes EP.
For fans outside the Twin Cities area, two (2) autographed EP download cards will be given away. Fans anywhere in the world are encouraged to enter!
Contest entry and rules: It's quick and easy! Simply send an email to with "Echoterra Contest" in the subject line. Please include your name, city, state/province, and country. To be eligible for the concert tickets, you must be at least 18 years old and reside in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area and be able to attend the concert.  Anyone, domestic or international, is eligible to win the autographed EP download cards. Winners will be chosen at random at 12:00 pm (noon) US CDT on Friday, May 21, 2010, and will be immediately notified by email with instructions for prize redemption. The name (first name and initial of last name only), city, and country of the winners will be published on Twin Cities Metal and the Echoterra Myspace page. Only one (1) entry per person, please. We respect your privacy, and your email address will remain private and will not be sold or used for any nefarious purpose!
After releasing their debut album The Law Of One on Blinding Force Recordings last year to great international acclaim, classically trained vocalist Melissa Ferlaak (ex-Visions Of Atlantis, Aesma Daeva) and drummer Adam Sagan (ex-Into Eternity) joined guitarist Yan Leviathan (Avian), keyboardist Jonah Weingarten (Pyramaze), and bassist Brian Hollenbeck (Avian). The revamped lineup released the In Your Eyes EP in January 2010 and performed their first concert supporting Epica in St. Paul, Minnesota in February. Echoterra is currently writing their sophomore album and is in the process of arranging additional tour dates for 2010 and 2011. The band recently signed a European management and booking deal with 2Wild4 Productions. Both In Your Eyes and The Law Of One remain in the Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in Hard Rock & Metal/Pop Metal category of mp3 downloads.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ratt And Quiet Riot From The Vault

Ratt is playing at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina tonight in support of their excellent new album Infestation (reviewed here). Their current lineup includes former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo, so I dug through my archives to show some old Ratt and Quiet Riot memorabilia and some memories from these shows.
The first concert I ever went to was Quiet Riot and Eric Steele in 1984 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. I was only in eighth grade, so my dad took my brother and me at the urging of my brother. It was my first concert, so how could I not be impressed by Kevin Dubrow's showmanship and antics, such as having Carlos Cavazo ride his shoulders while playing guitar? This was near the start of their Condition Critical campaign, so they played a huge number of tracks from that album and Metal Health. I was hooked on live music for life. Thanks, Dad! My dad complained for days about his ringing ears, and took the picture below. It's not the best live shot, but it conveys the excitement I felt at this show.

Quiet Riot hit hard times quickly, of course, and I didn't see them again until the summer of 1993 in Columbus, Ohio while supporting Terrified, and from how the band enjoyed playing you'd never know about their past troubles. I last saw them in Kansas City in 1997, and they still put on a great show. Sadly, Kevin Dubrow passed away 2007 from a drug overdose, and he never is given proper credit for both his skills as a singer and for enlightening a whole new generation of metalheads like myself.
Another one of my first concerts was Ratt in 1985 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a young Bon Jovi as the opening band. Other shows I saw around this time were Deep Purple and Giuffria, Dio and Rough Cutt, Kiss and Dokken, Bryan Adams and Kim Mitchell, and the legendary 1986 Iowa Jam with Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Dokken, Metallica, and Armored Saint. Ratt was touring in support of Invasion Of Your Privacy, and Bon Jovi had released 7800ยบ Fahrenheit earlier in the year. Bon Jovi got a huge response from the crowd, and you could tell they would become stars. Ratt blew me away playing all of their killer early material, and their stage setup with ramps and tons of lights was impressive to me. In retrospect, this was probably the best time to see both bands. I have old concert shirts from these early Quiet Riot, Ratt, and Bon Jovi tours - I'll post some pictures if I can ever find the storage box! I thought I was so cool in junior high school with my concert shirts because some pretty girls would always ask me about the Ratt concert.
I didn't see Ratt again until 1997 in Kansas City on their first reunion tour with Stephen Pearcy back singing, and I honestly don't remember much about this show. I used to see Stephen Pearcy and Bobby Blotzer occasionally after shows in Southern California, and they were always very friendly. During the time when there were two versions of Ratt touring, the Stephen Pearcy-led version played at The Rock in Maplewood in late 2001 I believe. I hung out with the band that night backstage and on the bus, and everyone was having fun and in good spirits despite the pending legal issues over the name. This was a great show, and Stephen and the band were in fine form. With a great new album and a stellar lineup, Ratt should be geared up for an outstanding show tonight!
Ratt will be appearing tonight, Friday, May 14 at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina. Support will come from Knight Crawler.

Rob Zombie And Alice Cooper Concert Review

Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Mayo Civic Center Arena, Rochester, MN
This co-headlining tour was a brilliant idea, and it brought two theatrical metal legends together for a run through small cities across America and Canada. Alice Cooper was up first, and he stole the show with a deep 80 minute set that showed why every horror-themed band borrows from him. The crowd was immediately brought to its feet with the timeless anthem “School’s Out”, and from there he worked his way through both hits and old album cuts. All the songs you would expect to hear were played, from “I’m Eighteen” and “Poison” to “Billion Dollar Babies”, “Elected”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, and “Under My Wheels”. Long-time fans had a lot to be happy for, with forgotten hits and album tracks like “I Never Cry”, “Department Of Youth”, “I Love The Dead”, and “Cold Ethyl” all being aired. Alice made the most of his time, and wasted no time between songs as he led the band through more than 20 songs. All the usual props were used, but it never seems old as Alice is summarily decapitated, hung, and impaled by spikes during the show. He’s a master showman, and it’s hard to see how anyone could walk away unimpressed at the high level of professionalism in every aspect of the show. Those who think that 70s-era rockers aren’t relevant in today’s music scene haven’t seen Alice Cooper recently. Here are some videos of Alice’s show, and the review of Rob Zombie’s set is continued below.
Click to watch Alice Cooper play “I’m Eighteen”.
Click to watch Alice Cooper play “Go To Hell”.
Click to watch Alice Cooper play “Only Women Bleed”.
Click to watch Alice Cooper play and get hanged during “I Never Cry/Black Widow Jam”.
Rob Zombie emerged following a 30 minute intermission, and the differences between his elaborate stage show as Alice Cooper’s couldn’t have been starker. Blinding strobe lights, massive amounts of pyrotechnics, and roving robots took the place of more traditional props. Zombie’s show was also great, but it was disappointing that he played a shorter set (70 minutes) with a lot of banter and wasted time between songs. Nevertheless, a load of hits such as “Superbeast”, “Never Gonna Stop”, and “Living Dead Girl” early in the set had the crowd delighted. Two new songs from Hellbilly Deluxe 2, “What?” and “Mars Needs Women”, were played, and guitarist John 5 put in an impressive, extended solo. Zombie and his band are highly energetic, and they run around on stage with vigor that matches the light show. “Thunderkiss ‘65” was unfortunately played way too fast, but a super-charged version of “Demonoid Phenomenon” lit the arena up. A funny moment happened when small feathers were shot from guns onto the crowd in front of the stage, coating everyone’s sweaty bodies with them. Zombie doesn’t shy away from controversy, either, and disturbing images of mutilated bodies occasionally were shown on the video monitors, and the band changed into Nazi regalia for “Werewolf Women Of The SS”. “Dragula” was saved for last, and the crowd was spent by this time after two full-length sets. While I preferred the greater showmanship and variety of Alice Cooper’s show, Rob Zombie certainly did not disappoint overall, either.
Click to watch Rob Zombie play “Superbeast”.
Click to watch Rob Zombie play “Never Gonna Stop”.
Click to watch Rob Zombie play “Demonoid Phenomenon”.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Misery Index Album Review

Misery Index – Heirs To Thievery
Relapse, 2010
In less than 35 minutes Misery Index demonstrates why they are one of the best death/grind metal bands out there. Heirs To Thievery, the band’s fourth full-length album, brings a level of song writing skills and technical proficiency that makes Misery Index stand out from the pack. Nearly all of the songs fall under the three or four minute mark, so the band is very efficient in making their statement and moving on to the next song. If the album was any longer it would begin wear on the ears, so it’s nice that the band has avoided the trap of packing as much onto a CD as possible. Heirs To Thievery does an outstanding job of mixing monstrous riffs, blast beats, and thick, heavy grooves into something that is enjoyable to listen. Among the album’s strong points are the furious madness of “You Lose”, “The Seventh Cavalry”, a rare slow track, “The Carrion Call”, and the title track. While the entire album rips your face off with its toxic assemblage of guitar work, it’s the drum work of Adam Jarvis that steals the show. He does an outstanding job of maintaining order to the songs, yet somehow adds fills and rolls in a way that adds to the technical nature of the album without sounding extraneous. Every death metal fan should add Heirs To Thievery to their collection as Misery Index have taken a massive leap over the bar set by other death/grind bands. It’s no easy feat to write an album in this style that can be enjoyed in its entirety, so Heirs To Thievery will only grow the legend that Misery Index is cultivating.
Misery Index will be appearing at The Rock in Maplewood on Monday, May 24 as support to Dying Fetus. Additional support will come from Arsis, Conducting From The Grave, and Annotations Of An Autopsy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Follow Twin Cities Metal On Twitter

After reading about the Twitter bug serendipitously exposed by an Accept fan (there's a good account of it at Gizmodo) that forced everyone's followers to be reset to zero, I figured it was a good time to jump in and try out the service. I will be using Twitter to post sneak peeks of upcoming album reviews, shows I will be attending, and in general things that don't warrant a full post here. Hopefully it will be a fun complement to what I post here. I imagine if you search "Twin Cities Metal" or "mplsmetal" on Twitter you should be able to find me, and here's the link to my Twitter page: Stop on over and add me to your follow list!

Monday, May 10, 2010

As I Lay Dying Album Review

As I Lay Dying – The Powerless Rise
Metal Blade, 2010
San Diego’s As I Lay Dying shows no signs of letting up or compromising their sound on album number five, despite their massive chart success. As I Lay Dying effectively blur the lines between metalcore, thrash metal, and death metal into a massive sound that can’t be ignored. One aspect of The Powerless Rise that I really like is the use of clean vocals. Vocalist Tim Lambesis really can sing, and his clean voice doesn’t sound forced or shoe-horned into songs such as “Anodyne Sea” and “Parallels”. Performances and production are flawless, and a clear sound that isn’t too heavy helps the songs shine. “Condemned”, “Anodyne Sea”, and “Beyond Our Sufferingh” are the best songs here, and they really incorporate all of the aggression, power, and technicality that make As I Lay Dying a stellar band. The metalcore tag that the band has will make some potential fans skeptical, but I can imagine that even fans of Sepultura and Pantera will be impressed. As the album nears its end with “Vacancy”, things begin to sound too much alike, which I always find to be a problem with nearly all metalcore bands. Nevertheless, The Powerless Rise is an impressive album that should only serve to widen As I Lay Dying’s appeal. I am admittedly a little biased against this style of metal, but I have no doubts that metalcore fans will give this a 9 or 10 rating.
As I Lay Dying will be appearing at Cabooze in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 12. Support will come from Demon Hunter, Bless The Fall, and War Of Ages.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rob Zombie Album Review

Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2
Loud & Proud, 2010
The latest album from Rob Zombie is finally out after a delay due to changing record companies right before the original release date in 2009. Hellbilly Deluxe 2 doesn’t match the excitement of the first Hellbilly Deluxe record, but it’s still an interesting album. A sequel album will inevitably be compared to the original, and so Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is forced to live up to expectations while avoiding the trap of becoming a knock-off. The album succeeds in carving out its own identity, but it’s not quite as exciting as previous Rob Zombie records. That’s not to say this is a bad album, just one that takes getting used to with a few listens. “Sick Bubblegum” and “What?” are two songs that immediately take hold with their addictive melodies. “Death And Destiny Inside The Dream Factory” and “Jesus Frankenstein” are the other songs that are closest to what you would expect from Rob Zombie. The rest of the album is a bit of a departure from the high-intensity rock of previous work. “Werewolf, Baby!” flirts with Southern-style rock with its slide guitar work, “What?” makes heavy use of an organ, “The Man Who Laughs” incorporates strings. Studio tricks are kept to minimum, and the result is guitar-based album in which the heavy, sludgy feel of a White Zombie album is gone. Hellbilly Deluxe 2 really deserves time to grow and appreciate. My initial reaction was lukewarm and dismissive, but I began to “get it” after the third or fourth time through. Rob Zombie really has done an impressive job of developing his sound and not rehashing past work. I’m not sure how much radio will embrace this, but those who have followed Zombie’s rise over the years should find a lot to appreciate on Hellbilly Deluxe 2. Rob Zombie has once again proven himself to be one of the most interesting and innovative metal artists.
Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper have area co-headlining dates as part of the Gruesome Twosome Tour. Both bands will first be appearing at Mayo Civic Center Arena in Rochester on Tuesday, May 11, then at DECC Arena in Duluth on Wednesday, May 12.
John 5, guitarist for Rob Zombie, will be signing copies of his latest solo CD The Art Of Malice at the 4540 Maine Ave. S.E. location of Best Buy in Rochester before the show at 5:30.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rush Documentary Screening In Minneapolis

SwordLord Productions and the Riverview Theatre will present a special theatrical screening of the acclaimed Rush documentary entitled Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage at the Riverview Theatre in Minneapolis on Thursday, June 10. Co-directed by Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn, who also directed Metal: A Headbanger's Journey and Iron Maiden: Flight 666, the film shows an unseen side to the Canadian progressive rock band and recounts their decades-long career. McFadyen and Dunn received a $25,000 award on May 1 for Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage being selected by attendees of the Tribeca Film Festival for the festival's 2010 Heineken Audience Award. A review of the film by Variety magazine praises Rush and the directors for a documentary that "should delight devotees and intrigue nonbelievers as it moves to theatrical play." Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage will be shown in select theaters before its June 26 television debut on VH1 and VH1 Classic. The official movie trailer can be viewed below.
Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage will be shown on Thursday, June 10 at the Riverview Theatre in Minneapolis, 3800 42rd Ave. S.
Rush appears on the concert stage at the Minnesota State Fair on Friday, August 27, where they will perform the Moving Pictures album in its entirety.

Revocation Album Review

Revocation – Existence Is Futile
Relapse, 2009
The recent retro-thrash movement has spawned a multitude of bands that harken back to the classic Bay Area sound that can be entertaining at times, but mostly leave me disappointed at the lack of originality. Leave it to Boston’s Revocation to answer the call and finally release a thrash album that is innovative and compelling. Existence Is Futile perfectly strikes that delicate balance in twisting a well-worn style into something unique. “Enter The Hall” isn’t some thoughtful, acoustic introduction. The instrumental opens the album with serious, pummeling riffs before a vicious growl leads “Pestilence Reigns” into a drum clinic by Phil Dubois. Other exceptional tracks are “The Brain Scramblers”, “Dismantle The Dictator”, “Anthem Of The Betrayed”, and “The Tragedy of Modern Ages”. There’s absolutely no filler present on the album, and it holds up well when played through in its entirety. Four of the eleven songs are instrumentals but one doesn’t even notice this as the songs blaze by. Revocation draws in enough influences across the span of the album to avoid the one-dimensional sound of peers such as Evile and Warbringer. The shared vocals of bassist Anthony Buda and guitarist David Davidson are more akin to a death metal or hardcore band, and this also helps to bring a unique identity to the band. What has me most impressed is that elements of the songs have a shade of familiarity to them, but to the band’s credit it is difficult to say that their sound becomes an imitation of other bands. It also amazes me that just three individuals can create such a forceful sound. Revocation is far ahead of the competition in the race to be the new kings of thrash. Look no further for an innovative take on this well-worn style.
Revocation will be appearing at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Saturday, May 8 as direct support to Cattle Decapitation. Additional support will come from Enfold Darkness.

Klank - January 17, 1998, Kansas City, MO

Here's another ultra-rare, uncirculated live show! This one comes from industrial metal powerhouse Klank, led by guitarist/vocalist Daren "Klank" Diolosa. Prior to forming Klank, Daren played guitar for the legendary Circle Of Dust. Quite simply, Klank's Still Suffering album, and Circle Of Dust's Brainchild and self-titled (the re-recorded 1995 version) albums are among the best industrial metal albums ever recorded! Klank has their first album of all new material in over ten years coming out later this year entitled Urban Warfare. A reworked version of their 1999 album Numb called Numb...Reborn (with a couple new tracks) was just released, and some live shows are in the works.
To gear up for all of this long-awaited activity, I digitized a VHS-C recording of Klank from the Still Suffering tour in Kansas City. This was recorded on January 17, 1998 at Yahweh Cappuccino in Kansas City, MO. The show actually took place in a cramped church basement with no stage and only stand-mounted lighting. Therefore, the video is a bit dark but the sound is fantastic. I remember it being a dark, snowy night and I had trouble finding the church. I arrived just as the show got underway, so the recording cuts into the first song, "Fall". Based on Daren's comments after "Scarified", "Leave" was not played. It's unclear if "Animosity" was played, but in any event the band performs nearly the entire Still Suffering album. This is the only known full-length live recording of Klank known to exist!!
I've also included below a flyer for a Circle Of Dust show in 1995 in Kansas City that I was lucky enough to catch. Man, what a show! Circle Of Dust were just absolutely crushing live, and they played a lot of my favorites such as "Dissolved", "Self Inflict", and "Onenemy". I wish I had a recording of that show.
Check out a couple songs from the recording and download the text file below. The text file contains links to download both the video (mov, H.264, 640 x 480) and audio (mp3@320 kbps or flac) files of the show. Enjoy!
Klank - 1998-01-17, Kansas City, MO, Yahweh Cappuccino
1. Fall
2. Deceived
3. Time
4. Burning
5. Downside
6. Disease
7. Scarified
8. Woodensoul

Click to watch Klank perform "Downside".

Click to watch Klank perform "Time".

Click to watch Klank perform "Burning".
As always, if you want to share the link, please link to this blog post rather than linking to the text file. Thanks!