Friday, June 29, 2012

In Concert This Week - June 29, 2012

It’s kind of a slow week for metal shows, but here’s what’s going on around The Cities.

If you didn’t get your fix of 80s metal at the Jack Russell’s Great White, Faster Pussycat, BulletBoys, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Lillian Axe show last week, head to Station 4 in St. Paul tonight, Friday, June 29 for Dokken, Hoodlum Johnny, The Grand Machine, and Next To Nothing. Other notable shows tonight include Heart and Joan Jett And The Blackhearts at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, and Empires, The Lighthouse And The Whaler, and Black Church Service at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis.

Gritty rockers Black Cobra and Gaza team up with local instrumental heroes Zebulon Pike on Sunday, July 1 at the Turf Club in St. Paul.

Lastly, local punk stalwarts Dillinger Four return to the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis for July 4 show this Wednesday with Frozen Teens, Brain Tumors, Turkish Techno, and Victory. Dillinger Four’s show usually sell out so get your tickets in advance while you can.

Concert Announcements - June 29, 2012

Minneapolis-based hard rock band New Medicine will be headlining a Live on Arrival benefit show on Friday, July 27 at The Cabooze in Minneapolis with Toussaint Morrison, Sheeped, Dr. Wylie, Big Villian, Q’s Junction, and Chrome Lotus.

Taproot and Smile Empty Soul have lined up a date at Station 4 in St. Paul on Monday, July 30

Henry Rollins brings his spoken word performance out on the road for an appearance on Thursday, September 27 at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. Tickets go on sale today, Friday, June 29 at 12:00 noon.

Folk metal fans can rejoice at the return of Finland’s Korpiklaani to Station 4 in St. Paul on Labor Day, Monday, September 2. Joining them for this voyage are fellow Finns Moonsorrow, Denmark’s Týr, and Estonia’s Metsatöll.

Hard rockers Chevelle play at 21+ show at First Avenue in Minneapolis on Friday, September 7. Locals Throw The Fight open the show before apparently heading to Ellsworth, Wisconsin to headline their own show at the Gaslight Bar & Grille. General ticket sales begin at 12:00 noon today, Friday, June 29, and you can buy presale tickets through Etix (linked at the First Avenue website) using the password "93x".

A second Lagwagon date has been added at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis on Wednesday, October 3. The October 4 show must either be sold out or close to it, so get your tickets soon!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ICED EARTH Album Review

Iced Earth - Dystopia
Century Media, October 2011

I’ve never been a huge Iced Earth fan so it’s a little difficult for me to place Dystopia in the context of the band’s large catalog, and their latest album does little to change my view that the band generally is above average yet fleetingly brilliant. Following a brief reunion with original vocalist Matt Barlow, Jon Schaffer and company have recruited Into Eternity screamer Stu Block. Stu drops his death growl to banshee wail range featured in Into Eternity to adopt a traditional style similar to Matt Barlow. It’s an interesting transformation that gives me increased admiration for Stu’s skills. Aside from that surprise, Dystopia offers little different from what can be regarded as a typical Iced Earth power metal album. The songs generally alternate between fast, galloping riffs and solid, fist-pumping romps. Everything is executed to perfection and there is little with which to find fault except that one feels like you’ve heard this all before. There’s really two ways to look at this. If you’re an Iced Earth fan and value consistency, Dystopia is a guaranteed winner. On the other hand, if you were hoping for boundaries to be pushed and limits tested with the wide-ranging vocal abilities of Stu, then you’re bound to be a bit disappointed. “Days Of Rage” is probably the exception to this, but it’s not enough. Count me in as disappointed. Dystopia is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but rather imagination and creativity seem to be what’s missing.

Iced Earth will perform tonight, Tuesday, June 26 at Myth in St. Paul in support of Volbeat with Hellyeah.


Sid Wilson/Mushroomhead/Blue Felix
Saturday, June 9, 2012
G.B. Leighton’s Pickle Park, Fridley, MN

This was bound to be a memorable show, if only because Slipknot DJ Sid Wilson (aka DJ Starscream) was billed together with Mushroomhead for this one night. Despite the past history of bad blood between the two bands, this would be proof that no hard feelings remain. Sid has been out on the road on a solo tour, and it only seemed natural to have him join Mushroomhead’s show on his night off between Rochester and Fargo.

Click on any picture to see more photos of Mushroomhead (51).

I arrived to miss all the local bands except for Blue Felix, and the only word that comes to mind about their performance is horrible. Playing forgettable rap-metal that went out of style over ten years ago, this masked crew didn’t get off the stage early enough for me.

Not having seen Mushroomhead since 2009 or so at The Rock in Maplewood, I was looking forward seeing them. As always, they put on a great show aside from it being too short. Of the four or five times I’ve seen Mushroomhead play headline shows, I’ve never witnessed a set longer than 60 minutes – tonight’s barely topped 50 minutes. A Mushroomhead show is always dramatic with two “water drum” kits on the front sides of the stage spraying plumes of water every time they’re hit, while the rest of band runs around the stage inciting the crowd. Surprisingly, opener “Come On” was the only song played from their most recent album, Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children, instead relying heavily on Savior Sorrow and XX. Some songs are more or less obligatory (“Bwomp”, Solitaire/Unraveling”, and “Sun Doesn’t Rise”), and these were rounded out nicely with “12 Hundred”, “Save Us”, “Kill Tomorrow”, and “Damage Done”. As I reported on June 10, “43” was introduced halfway through the set by stating that: “We got Sid Wilson coming on after us…Mushroomhead, Slipknot in the same room acting like decent people. There is no motherf*ckin beef at all!” The high point of the show came at the end with an awesome performance of “Simple Survival” followed by “Empty Spaces/Born Of Desire” to close the show. Mushroomhead never disappoints with their show, but I wish they would play longer sets.

Click on any picture to see more photos of Sid Wilson (26).

This was Mushroomhead’s show, but Sid Wilson took the stage soon after they got off to keep the crowd in the bar until closing time. Getting started around 1:15 am, the crowd had definitely thinned out by the time Sid arrived on stage. Surprising everyone, two members of Mushroomhead took the stage as Sid was getting going behind his turntable to play the water drums during the first song. It was a nice gesture, and this will undoubtedly go down in the annals of Slipknot lore. The first half of Sid’s performance had him behind his DJ console scratching records while dance music blared from the sound system. He then stepped to the front of the stage where he was joined by two rappers for a hip-hop style performance right up until the bar closed at 2. I’m not familiar with Sid’s solo work and can’t tell you the songs he played, but the second half of the show that had him rapping was the far more entertaining part. He was clearly having a good time on stage, and although not metal Sid’s set was a lot of fun. I had the chance to chat with Sid for a while after his set, catching up about personal things and reminiscing about some old Slipknot memories. Probably the last time I had seen him was backstage when Slipknot played Roy Wilkins Auditorium a few years ago, so it was a fun end to the night.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

KORN Album Review

Korn – The Path Of Totality
Roadrunner, November 2011

Take a divisive band in the metal community, mix them with one of the most hated forms of music (dubstep/electronica), and you’re bound to have one of the most controversial albums in years. The Path Of Totality sees rap/nu-metal pioneers Korn (can anyone believe they’ve consistently ridden the top of the charts for nearly 20 years now?) doing the unthinkable. As strange as it sounds, it totally works. There’s guitars here - not the crushing down-tuned chords you’re used to from Korn, but clean and effect-laden guitars that let the electronics come to the fore. What keeps this sounding undeniably like Korn is Jonathan Davis’s distinctive vocals. He’s singing more than ever here (sounding like Gary Numan at times!), but he also lets loose at times in a manner to which we’re more accustomed. I’ve never heard of a single person with whom Korn has collaborated on the album, but a variety of different moods and sounds are brought to each song. The best songs are brilliant, and they all feature Skrillex – “Get Up!”, “Narcissistic Cannibal”, and “Chaos Lives In Everything”. The remainder of the album more than holds its own with “Illuminati” being the worst track, but with only one song topping the four-minute mark (“Bleeding Out”) your attention never wavers. Credit really must be given not only to Korn, but to Roadrunner for being willing to release The Path Of Totality. Many untold albums have never (at least initially) seen the light of day, the most notorious example being Neil Young when he dared to experiment. At best, this type of album would typically be issued as a stopgap “remix” EP or maybe saved for B-sides. Korn, of course, should be lauded for taking a potentially fatal career risk with The Path Of Totality. Rare is the established band that’s willing to experiment so drastically with their signature sound, and even more rare is the occasion when the experiment succeeds. The Path Of Totality is a complete artistic triumph. One can only hope that Korn’s current live show features most of the album, if only to see how they pull it off. Will they use a ton of effects and canned tapes to sound true to the album, or will they reinterpret the songs with just guitars, bass, and drums? I wouldn’t even want to know and have the surprise spoiled. Can it dared to be said now that Korn is a progressive metal band?

Korn will perform Sunday, June 24 at Myth in St. Paul. Support will come from Sluggo and J Devil.

Friday, June 22, 2012

LILLIAN AXE Album Review

Lillian Axe – XI: The Days Before Tomorrow
MRI, February 2012

Lillian Axe has been on a roll for the last few years, and that streak continues with the release of XI: The Days Before Tomorrow. Guitarist and band leader Steve Blaze has always had a formidable challenge in replacing powerhouse vocalist Ron Taylor who sang on the band’s most well-known recordings (including 1993’s amazing Psychoschizophrenia album), and I thought the most recent vocalist, Derrick LeFevre, was a great fit for the band. Derrick’s now out, and in comes Brian Jones to man the mike. Although initially skeptical, Brian’s also an awesome singer with a fantastic high range that immediately won me over. Steve and the rest of the band continue to write quality, consistent material that never disappoints. The Days Before Tomorrow contains every you’d expect from Lillian Axe – great, melodic hard rock, spine-tingling melodies, and amazing guitar work that’s not over the top. Everything about this album exudes class and attention to detail. Most of the songs are slow to mid-tempo, and all have an energetic vibe that makes the album a pleasure to listen to. The clear highlight for me is “Death Comes Tomorrow”, a mellow song that incorporates piano and builds into an incredible, haunting melody in the chorus. Album opener “Babylon” and “Lava On My Tongue” are also standouts that showcase the heavier side of the band. Take it all together and The Days Before Tomorrow is yet another top addition to the band’s catalog. Most fans of melodic hard rock are already at least familiar with Lillian Axe, and if you aren’t you owe it to yourself you give a listen to this vastly underrated band.

Lillian Axe performs tonight, Friday, June 22 at Neisen’s in Savage as support to Jack Russell’s Great White with Faster Pussycat, BulletBoys, and Pretty Boy Floyd.

Here's some pictures of Lillian Axe performing August 25, 2009 at Primetime in Burnsville. Click here to read my review of that show.