Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM Cancels Tonight's Minneapolis Show

Don't know how I didn't hear about this show in the first place (actually I do - short notice, venue that doesn't have metal shows, no publicity), but atmospheric black metal band Wolves In The Throne Room has canceled a recently scheduled appearance tonight in Minneapolis at Club Med. A statement posted on the band's Facebook page last night reads: "Our van broke down in Montana. We are forced to cancel the Minneapolis show. Many apologies to everyone." It remains to be seen whether any other shows will be affected by their van breakdown. The next shows on the tour itinerary are September 1 in Chicago at Reggie's Rock Club and September 2 in Louisville at Rudyard Kipling. Let's hope their next show in the Twin Cities is at a more appropriate and visible venue.

If you're not already there, there's still time to get down to Station 4 in St. Paul tonight for Vreid and Kampfar.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

VREID Album Review

Vreid - V
Indie, March 2011

Every once in a while an established band steps out of their shell to release an unexpectedly brilliant album, and Norway’s black metal stormtroopers Vreid have done just that with their fifth album V. Vreid’s past output left me feeling respectful but uninspired. Smash all your previous notions about the band because V is one of the best black metal albums of the year. With new guitarist Ulcus (ex-Windir, along with the rest of the band), Vreid has evolved their sound into the harsher, raw-edged brother of Enslaved. A masterful production job enables the introduction of acoustic passages, bone-jarring riffs, and subtle keyboards to the band’s sound without taking away from the vicious sting of their buzzsaw guitars and harsh (yet surprisingly understandable) vocals. It’s true that many Viking and black metal bands have run with this same sonic and conceptual masterplan laid down by Bathory on Blood Fire Death in 1988, but Vreid succeeds by bringing forth progressive elements without sounding forced or contrived. “Slave” is the most extreme example, with a recurring march-style drum beat that leads into ballad-like verses with acoustic guitars and clean vocals, eventually building up to a well-crafted guitar solo near the end of the song. Similarly mind-bending are “The Sound Of The River” and “The Other And The Look”, both of which twist and bend Vreid’s sound in interesting ways. Not all vestiges of the band’s earlier work is lost, and “Welcome To The Asylum” and “Arche” retain enough brutality to help V seem like a progression. “Wolverine Bastards” is the only song to not scale the heights of the remainder of the album, but only enough to be a minor blemish on an otherwise masterful album. V is strong enough to vault Vreid to the upper echelon of progressive black metal bands, and I have no doubts that nothing but more praise and visibility will come to the band if they further evolve their sound in the manner shown here.

Vreid performs a co-headlining show with Kampfar on Wednesday, August 31 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from Necronomicon, Enshrined, and Maledicere.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Bangalore Choir - Cadence
Metal Heaven, September 2010

For those who don’t remember or weren’t there, Bangalore Choir was the Los Angeles-based hard rock band fronted by David Reece, vocalist for legendary Minneapolis band Dare Force. Dare Force was made a big impact in the Midwest during the 80s with a couple self-released albums and massive touring (how many bands today have their own PA, lights, and road crew?), but major label offers could never be finalized. The band eventually got back together in 2006 to record seven new songs, World Run Amuck. After recording with LA’s Sacred Child in 1986 or 1987, David bailed before their debut album was released, however, these recordings can be heard on the rerelease of the Sacred Child album. David rose to international attention in 1989 when he replaced Udo Dirkschneider as vocalist in Accept for the poorly received Eat The Heat album. Bangalore Choir was then formed, and all the pieces seemed to be in place for success when their album, On Target, was released in 1992. Hard rock and metal quickly fell out of favor with the industry and public around this time, and Bangalore Choir quickly fell into obscurity. Like many bands from this era, their legend continued underground and the call for another album was heard. After one or two aborted attempts, the reformed Bangalore Choir is now back with Candence which was released towards the end of 2010.

Joining David on Cadence are original guitarist Curt Mitchell and bassist Danny Greenberg alongside newcomers Andy Susemihi (ex-U.D.O.) and Hans In’t Zandt. Cadence certainly sounds different than On Target with its darker, heavier tone, but there are enough sonic threads between the albums so as to sound like an 18-year-interrupted progression. My second big impression is how much David sounds like David Coverdale from his bluesy, early 80s Whitesnake days. What you get here, then, is a modern-sounding hard rock album that is better than On Target in every respect. The album’s too long (14 songs) for my taste and attention span, so it took a few listens to fully appreciate the full album. Cadence gets off to a decent start, but “Survival Of The Fittest” really kicks it into high gear with a powerful, inspired melody. “Tomorrow” and “Heart Attack & Vine” keep up the energy before the excellent, soulful ballad “Still Have A Song To Sing” hits about halfway through. The layered vocals on “Sweet Temptation” are a cool lead-in to the chorus, but “High On The Clouds”, near the end of the album, quickly overshadows this with its melodic groove.

It’s hard to find decent, no-frills hard rock albums these days, so Cadence will strike a chord with those appreciate great songwriting combined with the quality execution of some veterans. My initial rating wasn’t quite this high until I released how much I really enjoy listening to the entire album in its entirety, despite its length. Some songs are definitely better than others, but taken as whole the album can only be seen as an artistic success. Bangalore Choir has returned with a winner, and hopefully more albums are in the cards. David has also been keeping himself busy with other bands and projects recently, including the Reece Kronlund album Solid. To the best of my knowledge, tonight’s show is the first performance of the reformed Bangalore Choir in the US, and one of only three shows, all opening for Diamond Head.

Bangalore Choir performs tonight, Wednesday, August 24 at Station 4 in St. Paul in support of Diamond Head with Dark Mirror.

Friday, August 5, 2011

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT - July 5, 2011, St. Paul, Minnesota

Devin Townsend Project
July 5, 2011
St. Paul, MN, Station 4

Click photo to see additional picture of the Devin Townsend Project (13).

Having seen Strapping Young Lad and the Devin Townsend Band a few times before, I knew to expect the uncanny during this support slot to Children Of Bodom. Although the set was short (35 minutes), it ranked up there with two other memorable shows by Devin. The first time I saw SYL was way back on the City tour (opening for Testament and Stuck Mojo), undoubtedly the best time to have seen them. My favorite Dev show was seeing the Devin Townsend Band open for Symphony X about 5 years ago, where floored me by playing some songs from the godly Ocean Machine album.

Click photo to see additional picture of the Devin Townsend Project (13).

Back to the present - this show was sold out and Station 4 was unbearably hot inside. Septicflesh and Obscura did a great job opening the show, but everyone was here for the final two acts. Multiple equipment problems delayed the start of DTP's set, but Devin keep the crowd entertained with his bizarre wit as he and the crew scrambled to get things going. Having released four albums in the last two years, it was shocking that only two of the six songs came from those albums. "By Your Command" from Ziltoid The Omniscient opened the show before Dev dug way back for "Truth" and "Om". Introduced as a ballad, "Supercrush!" would have been the evening's highlight if they hadn't followed this with "Kingdom", a super heavy, emotional song from the criminally overlooked Physicist album. It's one of my favorite Dev songs, and I couldn't believe I was actually hearing performed live to perfection. "Juulaar" was cut from the set, so "Stand" closed out the show.

Click to watch the Devin Townsend Band perform "Kingdom". Videos of the entire set can be viewed at my YouTube channel.

This was the most engaging I've ever seen Devin, and his on-stage banter can only be described as unique and bizarre. His band sounded tight despite playing in extreme heat. I'll get to Children Of Bodom in an upcoming post, but in many ways DTP stole the show. Download this and bask in the glory!

Click to watch the Devin Townsend Band perform "Supercrush!". Videos of the entire set can be viewed at my YouTube channel.

Devin Townsend Project
July 5, 2011
St. Paul, MN, Station 4
Shall I Tell You More??
192 kbps, 46.33 MB

1. By Your Command
2. Truth
3. Om
4. Supercrush!
5. Kingdom
6. Stand

As always, please feel free to share the link but do me a favor and share the link to this post rather than the download link. Thanks!

Upcoming Posts

Okay, I'm finally set to get a whole bunch of overdue things posted. You may have seen a slew of videos from some shows during the last three months that I've posted on my YouTube channel. This month I intend to get the audio of these posted for downloading. I've posted some full-length concert videos for download, but I won't be doing this any longer. The main reason is that video files are very large (especially the high-resolution ones I've been most recently shooting), and all file hosting services I've tried are extremely unreliable, to say the least. More often than not, the uploads crash and major headaches ensue when I have to attempt uploading a single file multiple times. Sorry about those of you who like video bootlegs, but it's just too much of a hassle.

I'll also add a note about audio file quality of shows available for download. First, I post everything at the bit rate at which they are recorded, 192 kbps. I currently don't have anything that records at higher bit rates. For people that sniff their nose at anything not lossless or at 320 kbps, I understand. I could encode files so that they appear to be lossless, but I don't want to fool anyone or waste your hard drive space. Second, yes, the quality of bootleg recordings varies! Some of these sound better than others. My experience has been that the quality primary depends on the sound inside the venue. I'm not a sound engineer, but I do master the original files so that they sound the best that they can on my sound system. They probably sound a bit different on your stereo or computer, so adjust your equalizer settings to listen. The most important thing is that these recordings do not have any distortion, and so generally they are extremely listenable for audience recordings.

There's a lot of things to post so I'm going to start with shows for which I've had requests. First up will be the Devin Townsend Project on July 5, 2011 in St. Paul. Here's the artwork for some other upcoming posts to whet your appetite. These posts will be combined reviews of the respective concerts. There's many more to come, so just hold tight.