Sunday, April 14, 2019

Catch Genotype at Midwest Springfest at Penny Road Pub on April 20th!

Post #372

2019 Independent Band of the Year, Genotype, will be performing this coming weekend on April 20th at Penny Road Pub's Midwest Springfest 2019!

Tickets are $10 in advance if purchased from the performing bands, $12 at the door. Doors open at 2:00pm, show starts at 2:30pm. 15 confirmed bands! 2 stages with alternating set-times so you'll be able to catch every single act! All-ages show until 8:00pm!!

Don't miss Happyheadbanger's reigning Independent Band of the Year, GENOTYPE, performing songs from their latest release, Genotype III and others.

For more information, click the image below to be directed to the facebook event page:

Happy Headbanging!!!

Monday, March 11, 2019

KISS-End of the Road Tour (3/2/19-Chicago, IL)

Post #371

KISS are a legendary rock-n-roll band that have influenced multiple generations of rock and metal musicians over a career that has spanned nearly 5 decades. They boast the largest discography within Mercury records, hold the record for most Gold albums by an American recording artist, rewrote the rules for the rock-n-roll concert stage show with pioneering theatrics, and have secured a place in the official Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. However, the members of the band are not as young as they once were and this time around they have called the tour "The End of the Road Tour: The Last Tour Ever". However, some critics claim that they have done a "Farewell Tour" once before, so why should we believe them now? That question can be debated as much as you like, but in the end, time will tell. As it always has.

These questions aside, I did approach this concert as if it will be the last chance I'll ever have to see this band in concert. I've long held to the statement that KISS are my all-time favorite band. I am constantly discovering new metal bands, both on the national and local levels, so on any given day there could be a different band that I hold in the highest regard. However, when I look over the course of my music-listening life, the timing, scope, and longevity of KISS all play a role in keeping them high on my ever-growing list of favorites.
(myself in Eric Carr's 'Fox' makeup)

So for this show I was all-in. I put on my 'ultimate fan' hat, outfitted myself in KISS swag from my head to my toes, and yes, even painted my face like a member of the band (this time I chose the late Eric Carr). I left my pipe-dream hopes and expectations of any reunion with past members at the door, as I had heard enough interviews that consistently ruled that scenario out. I simply went with the hopes to see this current KISS lineup of Gene, Paul, Eric and Tommy deliver a selection of songs and performance of music that would exhibit a diverse representation of the band's long and storied career. With this as my frame of mind, I was not disappointed. By the end of the night, I was grateful to have witnessed the KISS live show for quite possibly the last time.

From the moment the lights went out KISS were on a mission to give us a final performance that fulfilled a fan's expectations no matter what year they may have begun to follow this band. They opened with their classic hit, 'Detroit Rock City', descending from the rafters on stage-lifts, with laser-lights and fire balls erupting from the stage. There was no looking back from there. KISS kept the show rolling as best they could. They gave us a good mix of anthems, ballads, and heavier tunes.
(photo by Amanda Dean Morell)

Early in the show, Paul Stanley said they were going to represent every era of the band. By the end of the show I can say they did a fairly good job of that. True, it is difficult to represent every era when a band has 20 studio albums (24 if you count the 4 solo albums). If I looked at their set list under a magnifying glass I could say they skipped a few albums (no 'Hot In The Shade', no 'Revenge', no 'Monster', or 'Elder', or 'Carnival of Souls'... no 'Unmasked'). But I was looking on the bright side. They covered all of their biggest hits, and best-known anthems, and with the first 'Alive' album being their most successful and possibly their best-known release, it's no surprise they still play many songs from that era. But they did perform 'I Was Made for Lovin' You' from the 1979 'Dynasty' album, 'War Machine' and 'Heaven's On Fire' from the 1980's, and 'Say Yeah' from 'Sonic Boom' (one of only 2 albums recorded by their current line-up). So in the end they did represent the spectrum of KISS quite well!
(photo by Brian Batt)

Their classic theatrics were all there: pyrotechnics, elevating drum riser, laser light show, fireworks shooting from the guitar, and of course Gene Simmons breathed fire and spit blood at different points of the concert. Paul Stanley rode a zip-line out to a small platform stage in the back area of the main floor to sing a couple songs- a stunt he has done for several recent tours. Gene Simmons was lifted to the rafters to sing 'God of Thunder'.
(photo by Mary Ionetz Brodnick)

With all of this in mind, I must say that my favorite part was when they played 'Lick It Up'. Ever since they incorporated a segment of The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again' into the breakdown segment of this song it has become a concert experience to behold. They did not disappoint, as they performed this song again with the extended breakdown.

They closed their main set with 'Black Diamond', a classic song from their first album, and Alive! From the clean intro, the crowd participation elements, and slow closing segment of the song, the crowd went crazy right to the end. Then the lights when dim to the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd.
(photo by Jerry Downing)

A few minutes later it became clear that they had saved the best for last. The first song of the encore was 'Beth', sung by Eric Singer. The cool thing about this song was that for the first time in all the years I've seen KISS in concert, Eric actually played the song live on the piano, instead of singing along to the recorded instrumentation like he usually does. I only recall one other tour where they played the song live instead of singing along to the recorded music, but even then it was on acoustic guitars. This was on the piano, as the song is meant to be played. Thank you Eric Singer for making this a memorable performance!

After that they played 'Do You Love Me?' and of course 'Rock and Roll All Nite'! They dropped balloons from the rafters, blew confetti into the air, lifted Gene and Tommy on cranes out over the crown on either side of the arena, and ignited a lot of pyro in the ultimate concert finale. The crowd went crazy as they finished their show with this classic anthem. It was a night I'll never forget.

Thank you again to KISS for all the music and memories through the years. You let us drive you wild; we let you drive us crazy!

KISS-End of the Road setlist:
-Detroit Rock City
-Shout it Out Loud
-Deuce
-Say Yeah
-Heaven's On Fire
-War Machine
-Lick It Up (with medley of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' by The Who)
-Calling Dr. Love
-100,000 Years
-Cold Gin
-God of Thunder
-Psycho Circus
-I Love it Loud
-Let Me Go, Rock N' Roll
-Love Gun
-I Was Made for Lovin' You
-Black Diamond
---encore---
-Beth
-Do You Love Me?
-Rock and Roll All Nite


For more pics and videos from this concert on March 2nd, 2019, please visit this Facebook event link, posted by KISS, and filled with comments from the KISS Army of Chicagoland! Lastly, I wish to give a sincere thanks to those who gave permission for me to use your photos in this review. You guys rock! Happy Headbanging to all of the Kiss Army!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

2013 Interview from Orion Music and More with Tony Asta from Battlecross

Post #370

Here is another audio file I recently rediscovered, and never shared before on this blog. Granted, the transcript of this interview was posted back in 2013 and you can still read that post here. However, I do want to provide the audio form of the interview, and will hope to include audio files promptly after any future interviews I may conduct. Thank you for your patience!

My interview with Tony Asta- lead guitarist from Battlecross:

2013 Interview from Orion Music and More: Cauldron's Ian Chains and Myles Deck

Post #369

After several years I uncovered the audio files from 2 interviews I did at Metallica's Orion Music and More in Detroit 2013. I realize this is an opportunity to put these discussions online where they belong. I apologize for not including the audio back in my initial reviews of that music festival. The conversations were transcribed in those old posts, but there is much to be enjoyed by hearing the audio itself. Hopefully this is an oversight I will not make again in the future!

My interview with Ian Chains and Myles Deck from Cauldron:

2018 Independent Band of the Year-Final Results

Post #368

Although the responses to the recent Independent Band of the Year readers poll are always viewable at the google form link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdmAeWL6kccVt-pRC8yYUXk_FW-nA0KZg_l8b4Z8TBaMt7_Vg/viewanalytics

I did also want to post a graph of the final responses within this blog itself. I apologize for the delay.
Here are the final poll results:

Thank you again to all the bands for participating, all of the readers of this blog and fans of each individual band, past winners for you nominations, and anyone else who may have voted for any band in this contest. Congratulations to Genotype for their well-deserved victory.

 KEEP SUPPORTING LOCAL MUSIC!

Happy Headbanging!!! 
\m/

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Genotype-Genotype III (2017)

Post #367

Genotype recently won our Independent Band of the Year reader's poll in late 2018. You can visit their main website by clicking their link in the sidebar. Today I'll be reviewing their latest independent recording, their 3rd full-length album: Genotype III.

Genotype are a melodic, hardcore metal band who incorporate some electronic elements into their sound. It gives their music a futuristic, post-apocalyptic ambiance. They've been promoting their music at various local venues between Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI since 2012.

Genotype III holds true to their established elements and shines as cohesive, consistent hardcore metal listening experience, with a top-notch production quality. It showcases the vocal range of Kadie Kirby as well as, if not better than, their previous release, Design Intent, reviewed here. Her aggressive screams are on par with those of Alexis Brown from Straight Line Stitch, but at times she also shows off her melodic side, giving Genotype's music even more dynamic qualities. Here are some thoughts on each track of Genotype III.

Antiquity-The album-opener wastes no time getting into the fast riffs, aggressive vocals and technical prowess this band has to offer. The moderately fast verses are broken up by double-time choruses, and melodic breakdowns alike!

Defiance-Another winner, this track switches the formula around slightly, opening with a melodic verse that gives way to hardcore choruses. Lead guitar solo is reminiscent of the late Oli Herbert from All That Remains. Well done!

Cyberfi-This track is a bit slower on the tempo, but maintains the band's heavy edge. Segments of the song are driven by the rhythm section as guitars cut in and out.

Silence-Perhaps my favorite track, and certainly the one I've heard most frequently- this song has a music video they filmed to promote it. It was also one of their featured tracks in the recent Independent Band competition. Very tight production, very heavy song, and as always, tremendous skill on display with every instrument and the vocal performance! Check it out for yourself:

Light Worker-Here is the true boundary-pusher for this album, but in the lighter direction. This one is entirely melodic in tone, slow and soft in delivery, but still a very enjoyable number. A track like this to break away from the band's typical formula may be taking a risk, but it's well worth it, and makes the album as a whole a better product.

The Dream- This song slowly fades in with some electronic elements, but then they hit you with the heavy, hardcore vocals again. A melodic chorus and elegant lead guitars layered on top the hook-laden riffs deliver us back around to another hardcore verse. A song that meanders through their repertoire in a good way!

Synastry- Another winner that opens with clean vocals over  heavy, pounding riffs, broken up by ambient melodic breaks, then a transition to powerful hardcore vocals, blast beats and killer riffs. Smooth transitions and a mood that flirts equally with uplifting and dark tones.

Darkstar (Afterglow, featuring Michelle Esposito)- Starts off with slower, heavy riffs with middle-range vocals. Nothing over the top tempo-wise but the guest vocals on this one bring a new dimension to the music. For the most part this song stays true to the melodic side of vocals, while the instruments ebb and flow between clean and heavy.

Lo_Drift-A steady heavy riff is perpetual in this song, while the vocal style switches things up between the screams and the melody.

Temple of Saturn- One of the darker, more aggressive songs on this album. This one will give metalheads a fulfilling headbanging experience.

Praeteritus- In a similar way to their previous Design Intent album, Genotype close the album with a more experimental, electronic-focused number. Segments of spoken phrases by Kadie send a take home message to the listener- live without regrets.

Don't forget to check out Genotype's Spotify page!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Breaking Down the Numbers-2018 Independent Band Poll

Post #366

While initially I was not pleased to have to use a different format to conduct my most recent poll for Independent Band of the Year, I did discover that the Google Form approach allowed me to customize the poll a little further. For those of you who voted, you probably noticed that I added an extra question this year, asking you to check the songs you previewed prior to casting your vote. That is, after all, the goal of this contest: to get more people to actually hear the music from these unsigned bands that deserve to be heard. I was very curious to see how many respondents actually were listening to the songs.

The point of the poll, as always, was to determine the most popular band, so the 'Favorite Band' question was required for the poll. The 'Songs Previewed' question was optional. Still, the majority opted to respond- less than 10% did not respond to the 'Songs Previewed' question. The results were interesting, following a slightly skewed Gaussian curve:

There were 125 total responses to this year's Independent Band of the Year poll. Nearly half of those responding (44%) previewed only tracks by the band they voted for. This was expected to a certain degree- I did encourage all contestants to share the contest among their fans and campaign for votes in any way they saw fit. I was encouraged to see that so many respondents took the time to listen to at least one other band, and a fair amount of respondents (almost 22%, more than 1 in 5) listened to at least 1 track from every contestant, if not every single recommended track. (each band except Mediums had 2 tracks featured in the contest.)

Here is a graph depicting how many plays each song received:
(Note: The bands Genotype and Guardsman requested one of their tracks to be changed after the contest was already underway. Hence you see 3 tracks for those bands, but they only had 2 tracks recommended at any given time.)

Clearly the top 2 vote-getting bands, Genotype and Ditchwater, received slightly more song-plays. However, I was quite pleased to see that every band received a good balance of song-plays. 

I look forward to trying this approach again next year. Whether it will again be through Google Forms or some other format I can't say for sure.

Thank you to all who voted for any band in this year's contest. Watch this blog for a review of Genotype's album Genotype III coming very soon!

Happy Headbanging!


Friday, December 7, 2018

Congratulations, Genotype! 2018 Independent Band of the Year!

Post # 365
After a month of voting, sharing, sampling music, and self-promoting from the 7 contestants in this year's contest, ROCKford's metalcore phenoms GENOTYPE have won the Independent Band of the Year poll for 2018-19! Beginning in January they will enjoy a sidebar link to their main website, a full-length review of their latest album Genotype III, and promotions of each of their events throughout 2019 here at www.happyheadbanger.com!


Keep following this site, the Happyheadbanger Facebook page, and of course, Genotype for more to come in 2019!

Lastly I want to thank ALL the bands that were a part of this year's contest not just for agreeing to participate, but also for endeavoring to create, record, perform and promote original rock and metal music in this day and age. I thank you and I'm sure each of your individual followings do as well. Thanks again to:

Genotype
Ditchwater
Guardsman
Shadowstrike
Living Terror
Silverside
and MEDIUMS!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

2018 Independent Band of the Year Readers' Poll

Post #364

It is again time for my annual contest for HappyHeadbanger's Independent Band of the Year. 7 talented, unsigned rock and metal bands. Here with samples of their music for you to stream, view, download, jam, and bang your head to! Check out each one, click on the link at the bottom to visit the Google Form to cast your vote! Then share this article with your metal-head friends. Keep checking back to see which band will end up with the most votes and become my featured artist for the 2019 calendar year!

Here are brief descriptions of each band. Click the images to visit each band's facebook page or website. Click on song titles to hear the music through either Youtube, Bandcamp or Spotify. Happy Headbanging!

Genotype (Rockford, IL Metalcore/Technical Hardcore)
https://www.genotypeband.us/home

Genotype are a metal band from Rockford, IL that fuse hardcore and melodic vocal elements with a technical metalcore guitar tone and some electronic elements. The result is music that is in one moment brutally heavy, the next a catchy melody, and then a dark ambiance. You won't want to miss this band's music!

Check Out:
Trine
Silence

Ditchwater (Chicago, IL Alt-Metal)
https://www.facebook.com/ditchwater1/?tn-str=k*F

Ditchwater are a Chicago alternative rock/metal band that have been around since 1993! After some personnel changes, a creative core was established in 2002. After a 2016 full-length album, new music is again on the horizon for this band! For a heavy, post-grunge, alt rock experience give this band your attention!

Check out:
Broken Me
Heal Me

Guardsman (Chicago, IL Progressive Power Metal)
https://www.guardsmanband.com/home
Guardsman are a Chicago-based power metal band with some progressive metal influence as well. Their vocalist reminds me of a deeper-voiced James Hetfield. That, combined with their prodigious guitar soloing, prompts me to describe them as a mash-up of Metallica and Iron Maiden. If you love both thrash metal and the NWOBHM, then this is the band for you!

Check Out:
Dark Days Ahead
One of the Missing

Silverside (Chicago, IL Alternative Rock)
http://silversidechicago.tumblr.com/
Silverside are a Chicago hard rock band with catchy hooks and melodic vocals with just the right amount of grit. Some of their songs remind me of the Foo Fighters. If you're an alternative rock fan, check out this band!

Check Out:
Slowburn
Help is on the Way

Mediums (Chicago, IL Indie/Blues Rock)

https://www.facebook.com/MEDIUMSchicago/
Mediums are a blues-rock/indie-rock band from Chicago's north side. One of their first ever live-performances was actually at HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016! They're in the process of recording their first album, so a live youtube video is currently the only place to hear their music online. More coming from them soon!

Check Out:
Only in Moonlight

Shadowstrike (New York, NY Epic Power Metal)

https://www.facebook.com/ShadowStrikePower/
Shadowstrike are a progressive power metal band out of New York. Their furiously fast guitar solos and uplifting fantasy and video game themed music makes it easy to compare them to the mighty DragonForce. If you like your metal fast, with soaring melodies, then this is the band for you!

Check Out:
Gales of Winter
Wind in the Sky

Living Terror (Plano, IL Speed/Thrash/Blackened Thrash)
https://www.facebook.com/livingterrorofficial/
Living Terror are a Speed Metal, or Blackened Thrash Metal band from Plano, IL. They've been playing gigs around Chicagoland for the last couple years and have a full-length album available. If you're a fan of Children of Bodom or Venom then maybe you'd do well to give these guys a listen!

Check Out:
Warfare
Chemical Holocaust

To vote YOU MUST VISIT THE FOLLOWING LINK, then enter your email address and cast your vote! 2018 Independent Band of the Year Readers Poll

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Remembering Vinnie Paul Abbott (1964-2018)

Post #363

Vinnie Paul Abbott, the legendary drummer from Hellyeah, and formerly of Pantera, Damageplan, and Rebel Meets Rebel, passed away in June of 2018. I'm at a loss for words to describe how this loss affects the metal music community. Certainly he was an influential drummer. Any metal fan can tell from the bands alone how significant the music he helped create is, and has been, for heavy metal for decades. Perhaps it would be best for me to just add my perspective as best I can.
I became a metal fan because of the guitars-I won't lie. I was first drawn to the flashy guitar solos of the pop-metal hair bands, then the high-tempo, heavy riffs of thrash metal. My fandom steadily grew more intense: from the hair-metal bands of the 80's, to thrash, metal core, and melodic death metal. I still appreciate the entire spectrum of metal music as evenly as I can. Drums were not what I noticed first about the music, but they are always there, keeping time. But more than just being the backbone of the rhythm section, I feel the best drummers can showcase their skill behind the kit so much so that songs can be instantly recognized by a drum beat, a fill, or even the tone of the percussion. Vinnie's drumming skills were of that variety. Hell, many of Pantera's most famous riffs are ones where the drums and guitar are almost inseparable in the recording. If you're new to Pantera, or any of Vinnie Paul's recordings, just check out the opening riff from Mouth For War and you'll hear what I mean.

Vinnie's drumming may not have been the first drumming style that made me pay attention to the instrument, but in retrospect I find his drumming style to be quite recognizable, and essential to so many of the songs in his recording history. It is with these thoughts in mind that I selected the following playlist (limited to under 80 minutes to fit on a CD ;-). Not only did I try to use the tracks where I felt the drumming was Vinnie's best, but you'll notice I also span nearly his entire discography- starting with a track from Metal Magic, the rare debut album for Pantera, back in 1983, right up to Unden!able, the latest release from Hellyeah. Track these numbers down and give them a listen, and raise a Black Tooth Grin in memory of Vinnie Paul Abbott!

My personal Tribute Playlist for the Legendary Vinnie Paul:
-Widowmaker (Pantera)
-Be Unden!Able (Hellyeah)
-Mouth For War (Pantera)
-War In Me (Hellyeah)
-Save Me (Damageplan)
-Heart Worn Highway (Rebel Meets Rebel)
-Cowboy Way (Hellyeah)
-Primal Concrete Sledge (Pantera)
-Cat Scratch Fever (Pantera)
-The Badge (Pantera)
-Power Metal (Pantera)
-Hellyeah (Hellyeah)
-Use My Third Arm (Pantera)
-Drag the Waters (Pantera)
-Moth (Hellyeah)
-I Can't Hide (Pantera)
-Immortally Insane (Pantera)
-Hellbound (Pantera)
-All Over Tonight (Pantera)
-Love Falls (Hellyeah)

Rest in Peace Big Vin.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Act of Destruction Podcast on TheMetalExperience - Tuesday, September 4th

Post #362

Haven't heard of TheMetalExperience.com? Then you could be missing out on some great podcasts. This site is a Chicagoland-based online podcast site dedicated to heavy metal music, unsigned local metal bands, both those local and from around the world. They've already interviewed numerous local bands from Chicago and its suburbs, but also from across the US and the world.

Coming up next week on Tuesday September 4th, The Metal Experience's featured guest will be none other than HappyHeadbanger's own 2017-18 Independent Band of the Year: Act of Destruction! The Band have shared the location and date on their facebook page and encourage their fans to drop in and hang with them before and after the interview.

The podcast will be taped at 119 N York St in Elmhurst, IL. Curious to learn more about Act of Destruction, the band members, their influences, their personalities? Then you should follow The Metal Experience and listen to this podcast.



So mark your calendar and get to hang with the band on September 4th, or follow www.TheMetalExperience.com to listen to the interview available after September 5th!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Act of Destruction with The Gory Details on June 29th

Post #361

On Friday, June 29th, 2018 HappyHeadbanger's Independent Band of the Year, Act of Destruction, return to performing live at Cheers Live Music Venue in Midlothian, IL! Alos on the bill that evening is The Gory Details.


Don't Miss this chance to catch Act of Destruction in action. And always remember to #GetDestroyed with some brutal thrash metal!!! Doors open at 8:00pm.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Foredoomed-Ordeal (2017)

Post #360

Foredoomed are a melodic death metal band from Joensuu, Finland. They have a very diverse style of death metal that incorporates elements of power metal, progressive rock, ambient rock, and symphonic metal to name just a couple. The best known band I can think to compare them to may be Amon Amarth, but they offer so much more.

Ordeal is their debut album, and after listening to it all the way through, I am blown away by the quality of production and mixing that is evident on these tracks. Their intro track 'Origin' is a beautiful, symphonic metal track with melodic female vocals provided by a guest musician, Mia Rouvinen. Then they hit you with 'Ghost Recurrence', a more aggressive thrasher, and it changes the game as vocalist/guitarist Atte Kymalainen proceeds to show you what he can do. Death metal growls dominate for much of this song, but elegant melodic vocals come into play for the last minute or so of the song. By now the listener knows what the band is capable of, and the rest of the album explores each element further.

 I first tried to listen to Foredoomed as a death metal band that has incorporated melodic elements and styles of power metal and symphonic metal into their sound. The more I thought about it, however, that seemed like a lot of things to incorporate into a death metal pallet of sounds. Then I stepped back, reconsidered, and found that a better description is perhaps a progressive power metal band with a heavy infusion of death metal style vocals. I found this to be a more comfortable context to appreciate their musical diversity, so that is how I shall refer to them.

While the vocal are indeed mostly death metal growls and screams, with deep guttural tones and ear splitting shrieks, they do incorporate a significant amount of melodic, and operatic vocals too. The musical formula that drives the band's sound it truly melodic in focus. Don't get me wrong, they are still brutally heavy and have moments of pure death metal ferocity, but there are lead guitars overlaying melodic phrases every time you turn around. There is also a near-constant presence of keyboards and/or synthesizers that serve to fill the sound, even in moments when they may be so overpowered by the grinding riffs you hardly notice them.

Foredoomed are a truly talented melodic death metal band. They incorporate such a balanced and abundant amount of melodic, progressive, and ambient elements that I do argue they are more a power metal band that incorporates death metal elements than vice-versa. Ordeal as an album, is a masterpiece of this infusion of metal formulas. I can't get enough of it! If you are a fan of Amon Amarth or even more traditional European power metal bands like Sonata Arctica then you will find much to like with Foredoomed!

Recommended tracks from Ordeal:
-Ghost Recurrence
-Search for Tomorrow (My personal favorite! Love the lead guitar melody and theme that recurs throughout this song.)
-Dualism
-Shade of the Darker Sun

Follow Foredoomed on:
FACEBOOK
BANDCAMP
Official Website
Check out their lyric video for Dualism!