Thursday, December 8, 2011

THE DREAMING Album Review


The Dreaming - Puppet
Epochal Artists, November 2011
8/10


Led by Christopher Hall, former lead singer for popular industrial metal band Stabbing Westward, The Dreaming doesn’t stray too far from the sound he built with Stabbing Westward to deliver an enjoyable, pleasing record. Following a slew of EPs and one full-length album, Puppet has founding members Hall and Johnny Haro (drums) back with a revamped lineup that includes one-time American Head Charge guitarist Nick Quijano. Whereas Stabbing Westward delved into a dark, morose sound towards the end, The Dreaming takes the heaviness and great melodies of that band into more pop-sounding territory while retaining Hall’s bitter, personal lyrics. Right off the bat, “Puppet” shows that The Dreaming is out to make a statement with its dense, molten riffs. The single “Every Trace” has a more upbeat sound and cool march-like beat that gives it instant appeal. My favorite track, “Breathing”, has a brilliantly simple keyboard melody layered over a fast guitar riff while Hall sings a tale of regret and forgiveness. The next few songs aren’t quite as remarkable, but all are solid tracks, especially “Fight For You” and “Stitches”. A pleasant surprise is the inclusion of Depeche Mode cover “It’s No Good”, a heavier selection from a dark phase of the masters of synth-pop. The last part of the album features “Solo Crucifixion”, an interesting track that opens with some precise guitar work that eventually incorporates a heavy, low keyboard line that reminds me of something from Kill Switch…Klick, and “Too Late”, a great song with a memorable sing-along chorus. Puppet succeeds because Hall has taken elements of Stabbing Westward and woven them into a more accessible sound that at times surprises and impresses the listener. Hall’s voice sounds better than ever, and he still croons and screams as well as he did with Stabbing Westward. Big fans of industrial music are likely to dismiss The Dreaming as pop metal-sounding fluff, but there’s way too much talent here for anyone to write off without being a bit less than credible.

The Dreaming performs tonight, Thursday, December 8 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from 3 Pill Morning, Killing Floor, Withering Deity, and Create, Control. This is a 16+ show with early doors at 6:00 pm, and tickets are $10 at the door.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekly Concert Update - KITTIE Concert Announced, SCOTT WEILAND Cancelled

There's only a couple things to report with regard to concert announcements. In what seems like one of the oddest billings I've seen in a while, Kittie is teaming up with Blackguard, The Agonist, and Bonded By Blood for a tour that brings them to St. Paul at Station 4 on Wednesday, April 18. This is an all ages show, and tickets will be $12 in advance and $15 at the door.



Diamond Plate has now been confirmed as main support for D.R.I. on the promoter's Facebook page for their show on Friday, December 9 at Station 4 in St. Paul. Although they are not listed on the flyer, they will be there!



Lastly in concert news, Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland has cancelled his December 6 show at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Weiland hand only a handful of dates booked in December, and I'm not sure if other shows have also been cancelled.


During the coming week, there's a hard rock/metal show nearly every night so get out to something that interests you! Here's the quick rundown of the next week's shows.
Tonight, Friday, December 2, 80s heavyweights Warrant and Firehouse are joining forces for a co-headling show at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina with local openers Scarlet Haze. A little bit to the south of the Cities, local legends Gemini are doing one of their occasional reunion shows at the Wicked Moose Bar and Grill in Rochester tonight.



Saturday, December 3 brings Avenged Sevenfold, Hollywood Undead, Asking Alexandria, and Black Veil Brides to Minneapolis at the Target Center. Also on Sunday, a ton of local bands are gathering for a big show at Club Underground in Minneapolis, including The Black Light, OBCT, Thought Thieves, As/Of, The Night, Kether, Thosquanta, Avenpitch, Albuterol, and Oneneoeon.


Sunday, December 4 is a big day that starts early with Trans-Siberian Orchestra performing two shows at 3:30 and 7:30 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Also in St. Paul that night at Station 4 are 80s rockers Enuff Z'Nuff with The Regenerators, The Grande Machine, and Crashmatic. Enuff Z'Nuff really is so underrated and different than other hard rock and metal bands from this time. I saw them once at The Filling Station in Kansas City around 1998, and they are phenomenal live. Tantric also plays on Sunday in Burnsville at Primetime Sports Bar & Grill with Man Made Machine, Underride, and Eve To Adam.



Sevendust returns on Monday, December 5, this time at Myth in St. Paul with support from Eye Empire, Candlelight Red, and Seven Day Sonnet.



Wednesday, December 7 sees As I Lay Dying at First Avenue in Minneapolis with Of Mice & Men, The Ghost Inside, Iwrestledabearonce, and Sylosis. For those up north, the Avenged Sevenfold tour lands at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth on Wednesday.



Lastly, The Dreaming, featuring Stabbing Westward vocalist Christopher Hall, plays Station 4 in St. Paul on Thursday, December 8 with Killing Floor, Withering Deity, and Create Control.


Check the details on the concert calendar to the right for additional details about these and other shows.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

RAMMSTEIN Pre-Sale Password

If you're keen on going to see Rammstein when they bring their spectacle to Minneapolis at the Target Center on May 8, here's the password for ticket pre-sales: BERLIN. Pre-sales for the Minneapolis concert start today, Thursday, December 1 at 10 am, and this password is valid only until 5 pm today. General ticket sales begin Monday, December 5 at 10 am. I have no idea if this pre-sale password will work for other US dates, but it won't hurt to give it a try. Sometime before the concert I'll get around to posting pictures of Rammstein from the 1998 Family Values Tour when they were touring in support of Sehnsucht. They do put on an impressive show if you've never had the chance to see Rammstein.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekly Concert Update, Part 2 of 2 - ANVIL, THE DREAMING, NEW MEDICINE, 12 STONES Concerts Announced

Looking ahead first for the biggest news of the week, Canada's legendary and unlikely film stars Anvil are set to explode at Station 4 in St. Paul on Wednesday, February 22. No further information is available at this time. If you're unfamiliar with Anvil, you owe to yourself to learn about them by watching the award-winning movie Anvil: The Story Of Anvil and reading their autobiography of the same title.


  


Former Stabbing Westward vocalist Christopher Hall brings The Dreaming to St. Paul at Station for a just-announced show on Thursday, December 8 with Killing Floor, Withering Deity, and Create Control. This is a 16+ show and is $10 at the door. The Dreaming just released their latest album, Puppet, earlier this month.






Local hard rock bands Eden, Vaudeville, Smiling Politely, and Aiming For Aurora are teaming up for a show at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis on Friday, December 9. Advance tickets are only $5 ($8 at the door), and this show is 18+.



Twin Cities-based New Medicine is currently wrapped some dates in the southern US, but they return home to play the Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis on Thursday, December 22 with an opening band to be announced. This show is 18+, and tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door.


Mega-selling Christian band 12 Stones comes to Station 4 in St. Paul on Sunday, January 15 with Forever Waiting, Requiems End, Tepetricy, and Essex for an all ages show ($12 advance, $15 at the door).



As expected, Belphegor has dropped off the upcoming Dark Funeral tour that comes to St. Paul at Station 4 on Thursday, February 9 and Inquisition has now been announced as their replacement. Still on the bill are Abigail Williams, Gigan, and Maledicere. This show is 16+, and tickets are $17 in advance or $20 at the door.



Weekly Concert Update, Part 1 of 2 - QUIET RIOT Tonight, KYUSS LIVES!/THE SWORD, PROTEST THE HERO/SCALE THE SUMMIT Wednesday

There's quite a few new concerts for the Twin Cities area that have been announced (I'll get to those in a separate post), but don't forget about a couple shows this week. Tonight the history-making Quiet Riot returns to the area for a show at G.B. Leighton's Pickle Park in Fridley. Dorydrive and Horizontal Hero open the show, which is 21+ and only $12. I've seen Quiet Riot in different incarnations going back to the Condition Critical tour, and they always put on an entertaining show full of songs that you love but often hate to admit. Of course, Kevin Dubrow is deceased and guitarist Carlos Cavazo is gone, but Metal Health-era members Frankie Banali and Chuck Wright are soldiering on with guitarist Alex Grossi and vocalist Mark Huff. If you had the chance to see Mark singing with Van Halen tribute band 5150 when they've the area in the past, then you already know that he's got a great, strong voice. I caught Quiet Riot earlier this year when they were co-headling with Dokken, and Mark does an awesome job of being true to Kevin Dubrow's style without sounding like a clone. Check out "Metal Health" and "The Wild And The Young" with Mark Huff singing. 


Watch Quiet Riot perform "Metal Health" on March 19, 2011 at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina, MN.


Watch Quiet Riot perform "The Wild And The Young" on March 19, 2011 at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina, MN.


 


Two shows are going on Wednesday, November 30. Kyuss Lives! and The Sword will be storming into First Avenue in Minneapolis for what promises to be a great one. Guitarist Josh Homme isn't a part of this reunion, however. Kyuss is arguably the greatest stoner metal band, and they laid down the blueprint for everyone after them. I feel fortunate to have seen Kyuss three times, first at the Vic Theater in Chicago on the Blues For The Red Sun tour opening for Danzig and White Zombie, next at the Empty Bottle in Chicago with Stompbox on the Sky Valley tour, and another headline show at the Hurricane in Kansas City on the final ...And The Circus Leaves Town tour. This should be a heck of a night. Also this same night Protest The Hero and Scale The Summit team up at Station 4 in St. Paul with local support from Last Chance To Reason and Windowvine.



Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Concert News: FULL BLOWN CHAOS Canceled, TANTRIC, SCOTT WEILAND, DROPKICK MURPHYS Announced

A couple of new concert items are worth mentioning, which I'll get to shortly. First, coming up this week are Lynch Mob and Corey Taylor. Lynch Mob and Life Tragic play tonight, Sunday, November 20 at Neisen's Sports Bar & Grill in Savage. Joining guitar master George Lynch in his band are vocalist Chaz West (Bonham), bassist Robbie Crane (Ratt), and drummer Scot Coogan (Brides Of Destruction, Ace Frehley, others). This is a 21+ show, and it's only $10 at the door. Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor is out promoting his autobiography, Seven Deadly Sins, with a solo spoken word/acoustic/Q&A tour that comes to the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis on Tuesday, November 22. This is an 18+ show, and tickets are still available for $25.



Hardcore band Full Blown Chaos has canceled their headlining tour with Rose Funeral, Battlecross, and Diamond Plate. Despite Full Blown Chaos pulling the plug, the rest of the bands will continue the tour. Unfortunately, the show scheduled at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 25 has been completely canceled. Cleveland's Ringworm was also on the bill, but I doubt they would have appeared since they also previously announced cancellation of their tour dates.




Rockers Tantric announced their return to town on Sunday, December 4 at Primetime Sports Bar & Grill in Burnsville with Man Made Machine, Underride, and Eve To Adam. Primetime is a great venue to see bands if you've never been there. This is an 18+ show, and tickets are $13 in advance or $15 at the door.


Also just announced is Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland, who will be appearing at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis on Tuesday, December 6. Weiland recently released a Christmas album, The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, so I would imagine this tour will include his Christmas song renditions. This is an 18+ show, and tickets are $30–50. The only other Scott Weiland tour dates announced are November 30 (New York, NY, Irving Plaza) and December 3 (Huntington, NY, The Paramount), and I suspect more will be announced this week.


Getting back to Diamond Plate, they apparently will be playing with crossover legends D.R.I. on Friday, December 9 at Station 4 in St. Paul. The Diamond Plate Facebook page lists this and a couple other dates with D.R.I. so I've added them to the concert calendar, but there's no mention of this on the venue's or promoter's websites. Another local band, Ripsnorter, has been added to the show so the complete billing appears to be: D.R.I., Diamond Plate, Invasion Earth, This Will Not End Well, Virgin Whores, Deretia, and Ripsnorter.



Looking further ahead, long-running punk stalwarts Dropkick Murphys announced a tour for early next year that brings them and Frank Turner to Minneapolis at First Avenue on Saturday, February 25. This show is all ages, and tickets are $31.50 in advance or at the door.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekly Concert Announcement Update

Two big concerts were announced this week for the Twin Cities area. First, the mighty Machine Head plays a long-overdue headline show here in St. Paul with Suicide Silence, Darkest Hour, and Rise To Remain supporting on Thursday, January 19 at Station 4 in St. Paul. Tickets go on sale today at 12:00 noon through Vital Tickets ($22 advance, $25 at the door). This is an early, all ages show that starts at 5:30. I'd be shocked if this didn't sell out, although I have seen Machine Head play venues this size to less than a full house. Nevertheless, Station 4 gets very uncomfortable with a large crowd, so it's disappointing that this isn't taking place at a larger venue such as First Avenue or The Cabooze.



The second big concert announcement is that Germany's industrial metal outfit Rammstein will play at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 8. There's been no word on any support bands. General ticket sales begin on Monday, December 5 at 10:00 am through Ticketmaster, while presale opportunities start on Thursday, December 1 at 10:00 am. I'm still blown away that there's enough pent-up demand for Rammstein to tour arenas in the US. This is a band that has only had modest success in the US, and their only full tour here took place in 1998 as support on Korn's Family Values Tour. Shockingly, they sold out two nights at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2010 which they followed up with a short US run in 2011. Good for Rammstein for finding their audience, but this dramatic turnaround to arenas is quite stunning.


I'll be getting some recent concert reviews posted along with some other goodies, but right now you can keep your eye out for video footage of recent concerts by Cynic, 3, Iron Thrones, Mayhem, Keep Of Kalessin, Hate, Abigail Williams, and Blue Ox that's in the process of being uploaded to my YouTube channel.

Monday, November 14, 2011

ICON FOR HIRE Album Review


Icon For Hire – Scripted
Tooth & Nail, August 2011
7/10


This type of technology-heavy pop rock/metal normally has no appeal to me, but I gotta hand it to Icon For Hire for crafting a well-written album that’s easy to listen to. Their upcoming show at Station 4 is their third performance here in just the last couple of months so I was curious about what the band has to offer. Icon For Hire is a female-fronted band from Decatur, Illinois that has previously released two EPs independently, and Scripted is their debut album for venerable Christian label Tooth & Nail. Scripted is a highly-polished, slick album that takes hard rock into pop territory that’s going to have massive appeal to radio. Opener “Theater” sets the tone for the album well, and leads into the excellent single “Make A Move”. On the strength of fantastic melodies, other songs like “Off With Her Head” and “Up In Flames” hold your attention and bring you to the last part of the album before you know it. The power ballad “Only A Memory” would be a clear winner as a single, and has the potential to give Icon For Hire major pop crossover success. “Pieces” ends the album on another high note with a memorable chorus and some nice guitar work. Understand that Icon For Hire won’t find a big fanbase among most metal fans but there’s a lot for those who don’t mind listening to pop-based hard rock to get excited about. I wouldn’t be surprised to see scores of 8–10 from fans of this style and it’s hard to deny that the band has some seriously talented song writing skills.

Icon For Hire performs on Wednesday, November 16 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from For Those Who Bleed and Rob Mahlum.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

CYNIC EP Review


Cynic – Carbon-Based Anatomy EP
Season Of Mist, November 2011
9/10


Reactivated progressive death metal band Cynic is becoming harder and harder to classify as their music continues to drift off into towards complex space rock with each new release. Although their origins are in death metal, Cynic left that field behind with their return in 2008 with Traced In Air. You’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting a return to the heavy and bizarre sounds of 1994’s Focus, but those willing to embrace this developmental journey will continue to be entranced. There’s really only three traditional songs on this six-song EP, as “Amidst The Coals”, “Bija!”, and “Hieroglyph” are trance-like interludes filled with chants and spoken word parts. The meat of Carbon-Based Anatomy is the title track, “Box Up My Bones”, and “Elves Beam Out”. “Carbon-Based Anatomy” features jazz-inspired drum fills everywhere underneath a simple bass and guitar line that only gets interrupted by acoustic passages that build into solo that is the track’s climax. “Box Up My Bones” is easier to grasp, and also follows a heavy acoustic rock sound. Things get a little weirder with “Elves Beam Out”, but its rhythmic chorus brings a sense of heaviness back to the mix. I admit to feeling a little let down with Traced In Air, but Carbon-Based Anatomy shows a maturing of Cynic’s new direction where the band sounds more comfortable and confident. The doors are wide open for fans of progressive rock in the mold of Porcupine Tree and The Pineapple Thief to embrace Cynic, and I’m already eagerly awaiting to hear what the next record with sound like.


Cynic performs tonight, Sunday, November 13 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from Metal Blade recording artist 3 and locals Iron Thrones.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

CYNIC - June 1994, Des Moines, Iowa (Remastered)

I posted this classic Cynic show a while back, but I thought with their upcoming show I'd try my hand at improving the audio quality of this. What you have here is a complete show from the Focus tour while supporting Cannibal Corpse and Sinister in June 1994. Focus is one of the most ground-breaking progressive death metal albums recorded. I've never been able to nail down the exact date of this show (June 18, 1994 is my best estimate)! I saw this tour in Chicago at the Oak Theater, however, I wasn't present at this show. A couple people who were at this show have been in touch with me, but they have no record of the concert date. For this remastered edition, I took the original video file transferred from VHS, boosted the volume, and tweaked the sound a bit. The result is audio that is less heavy on the high end, and I was able to get rid of most of the annoying tape hiss that plagued the original version. If you listen to this on a decent set of speakers it will sound richer and warmer, and you can crank it up a bit. I've also included new cover artwork. Cynic is out on tour now supporting their soon-to-be-released EP Carbon-Based Anatomy.



Cynic performed all but "Celestial Voyage" from Focus, and here are the details:


Cynic
1994-06
Des Moines, IA, Two Rivers Music Hall
mp3@192 kbps


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 download link is here. As always, share and spread the good word, but I appreciate linking to this post rather than the download link.



Cynic performs Sunday, November 13 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from 3 and Iron Thrones.