Thursday, September 29, 2011

CAGE Tonight in St. Paul; SKID ROW/DIO DISCIPLES Cancels Medina Show

Bad news first—Skid Row and Dio Disciples have cancelled their show scheduled for tomorrow, September 30 at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina. No reason was given for the cancelation, but the venue was nice enough to call ticketholders with the news yesterday. A post on the Skid Row website indicates that the show might be rescheduled.

Given that cancelation, there's no reason not to get out tonight for the return of Cage, a long-running traditional power metal band from San Diego. The amazing thing about Cage is that they continue to grow through their years of hard, underground DIY work ethic. Having known and seen the band live since 1999, I can attest that every show is brilliant. Tonight's show, at Station 4 in St. Paul, is Cage's third visit to the Twin Cities, and is the very first since completion of their soon-to-be-released new album, Supremacy Of Steel. This sort Midwest jaunt for Cage takes them to Moorhead, Minnesota tomorrow, then to Chicago for a festival show on Saturday. There's a great lineup of local support bands, including Dawn Of Valor, and it's only $8, so do the right thing and head to Station 4 tonight.

Cage performing new song "War Of The Undead" for the first time on June 23, 2010 at The Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis.

Cage performs tonight, Thursday, September 29 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from Powerfinger, Dawn Of Valor, Minos, Eternal Voyager, and Noble Beast.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

EVERGREY Album Review

Evergrey – Glorious Collision
Steamhammer/SPV, 2011

Sweden’s Evergrey are widely touted as being at the forefront of the current progressive metal movement, but Glorious Collision leaves me wondering how much longer fans will be patient following a string of less-than-stellar albums. This latest album has its moments, but it’s difficult for any band to maintain a high level of consistency over 13 songs in 60 minutes. I’ve probably said it before, but I’ll state my problem with too many albums—they’re too long and have too many songs. Glorious Collision is a textbook example of the failure of bands to put forth the best 8 songs for an album. Throw out the weakest songs here – “You”, “Out Of Reach”, “The Disease…”, “Wrong”, and “I’m Drowning Alone” – and immediately this would be a superior record. The biggest doubt with Glorious Collision was how extensive personnel changes would affect the album. The songwriting core of the band is intact, however, and the new members do a great job. “Leave It Behind Us” starts the album acceptably, but things quickly go south with “You” and “Wrong”. Only when “Restoring The Loss” and “To Fit The Mold”, the best songs on the album, kick in does my attention pick up. The rest of the album then continues to meander through mid-tempo melodies that feature great vocals and some solid playing, but there’s simply too little that’s compelling. Another problem is the placement of the vocals waaaaay too far up in the mix. I love Tom Englund’s voice, but hearing it so prominently throughout gets tiring on these ears. I wish I could find more to like here, but multiple listens have failed to spark the love I used to have for Evergrey. Fan reaction to Glorious Collision seems to be very much split, so you’ll probably still want to give this a spin if you’ve read this far.

Evergrey performs tonight, Tuesday, September 27 at Station 4 in St. Paul with support from Sabaton, Blackguard, Powerglove, and The Absence.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

ALATION Demo Review

Alation – Demo 2011
Self-released, 2011
 Click picture to see more photos of Alation performing last year (23).
Minneapolis-based Alation is keeping their strong momentum going with the recent release of a new two-song demo to follow their killer five-song demo from last year (reviewed here). Overall, I’d have to say that the band does a modern take on thrash metal, but there are many reasons why Alation shines. For one, don’t mistake the thrash influences for this being a retro-hack regurgitation like many signed bands. The closest comparison, musically, is to mid-tempo Testament, with an emphasis on well-crafted melodies and extended guitar solos. Female vocals aren’t a gimmick anymore in extreme metal, and vocalist Angel uses the full range of her capabilities more than most. She can sing clean and with a rough scream with the best of them, but what I love is the way she sings melodies to give the songs a haunting, personal feel. The first song on this latest demo is “Abcess Of Insanity”, which after a powerful introduction leads into a slow, stomping song that kicks in with a vocal melody of the type I was referring to. There’s plenty of guitar fills and solos along the way from Stu and Sawyer, and it’s clear this song is another winner for the band’s catalog. The second song, “Aflame”, appeared on the expanded version of last year’s demo (reviewed here), and I’m not sure if it’s been changed at all for release again here. It doesn’t matter, this is the band’s best song and represents best what Alation is capable of. As I’ve noted previously, “Aflame” has Angel spitting out some vicious vocal barbs while the rest of the band kicks it into high gear, with a acoustic vocal and guitar interlude that progresses into a fast closer for the ambitious, seven-minute track. Alation continue to prove that they’re the real deal, and labels would be wise to start paying attention to this talented, original band that offers a fresh take on thrash-influenced metal that blows away the stale retro-craze still ongoing. See Alation tonight to pick up your copy of this and show ‘em your support, or head over to their Facebook page to stream these and other songs.
Click to watch Alation perform “Aflame” last year in Minneapolis.

Alation performs tonight, Thursday, September 1 at Station 4 in St. Paul with Hollowstone, Urn, Northsky, and Eldergaad. This is a 21+ show with doors at 7:00 and Eldergaad takes the stage at 7:30.