Saturday, October 20, 2012

GIGANTOUR 2012: Lacuna Coil, Volbeat, Motorhead, Megadeth

Post # 217
On February 12, 2012, it was time to hit the road for another great rock n' roll/heavy metal show... Our destination this time: Milwaukee's Rave/Eagles Club for Megadeth's GIGANTOUR!

We were cutting it a little close for our arrival time, rushing into the venue as we heard music blaring already. Lacuna Coil had already taken the stage! We arrived in the actual music hall in time to catch most of their set. My favorite part of their set came between Fragile and Kill the Light, as Cristina looked up the the lighting tech-booth and said, "I think it's time we Kill the Light..." She likes making plays on the words of their song titles. I thought it was clever, and the song was awesome!

Lacuna Coil delivered an excellent set, culminating with their hit 'Spellbound' from their Shallow Life album a couple years ago. During the intermission, we edged our way in a little closer, and segments of the crowd shifted either for drinks or the rest rooms. We agreed to repeat this practice between each band through the evening to see how close we could get by the time Megadeth came on.

But next up was Volbeat! From Denmark, Volbeat are a metal band not quite like any other. They are heavy, sure, but they blend in a lot of old-school rock n' roll (almost the likes of Elvis Presley), resulting in a heavy, melodic, and catchy style of metal that's almost impossible not to dig. Currently they are getting a lot of air-play on hard rock radio with their hit 'A Warrior's Call'.

It may be no surprise, then, to hear that they opened with that very song. The opening lyric, "Let's get ready to rumble!!" almost made it feel like we were at a WWF event, but the music was much louder and heavier! Volbeat had it cranked up pretty loud, and their choice of songs displayed their versatility. Their softer side came across best on the tune 'Fallen', which has since become a frequent radio hit for them as well. Check that one out if you haven't... it's a great song!

Just as they were about to wrap things up, in the middle of their last song, they broke into the main riff from Slayer's 'Raining Blood'. So the crowd whipped back up into a true frenzy just as they closed their set. Now we were totally amped for Motorhead...

During the intermission, my buddy and I again crept slightly closer to the stage. Better view, more centrally located within the venue, alright!

Motorhead came out to the stage in a nonchalant sort of mood. Lemmy Kilmister simply walked up to the mic and asked if we were ready for some rock and roll. Then he let us have it, Motorhead were off and rolling... or perhaps rumbling is the better word. Drummer Mickey Dee was like a machine, driving the locomotor-sized engine of the rock'n'roll-meets-metal beast that is Motorhead. Their set was mostly composed of older songs that are fan-favorites, but they did play 'I Know How To Die' from their most recent album, The World Is Yours.

Lemmy was the classic business-like front man, keeping any intros between songs very short in favor of getting to the music quickly. The only down side may be that their set flew by pretty quickly, with the exception of Mickey's drum solo. They closed with two of their best-known songs, 'Ace of Spades' and 'Overkill' before leaving us to gather out breath for Megadeth...

Megadeth took the stage to near-deafening cheers. By this point we had secured a spot on the floor much closer to the stage. We braced for some furious thrash-metal... and once the drums started to thunder, indicating the beginning of the first song, 'Trust', we became engulfed in a throng of moshers. The mosh pit had started in earnest now, and we to a few minutes to fight our war into a spot to stand. Cramped and sweating with the raw energy, we locked in and pumped our fists to some of Megadeth's classics, like 'Hangar 18' and 'Wake Up Dead'.

Unlike the last time I saw Megadeth, back on American Carnage, this time they mixed up their set with several of their more melodic-metal songs. As the opportunity was here, Dave Mustaine invited Cristina Scabbia to join him to sing the duet-version of 'A Tout Le Monde'. The more obscure song 'Foreclosure of a Dream' was played as well. They also performed a string of 3 tracks from their new album 13 before closing with the encores 'Peace Sells' and 'Holy Wars'.

What an incredible night of metal mayhem!
The set lists for each band were...

Lacuna Coil
-Our Truth
-Kill the Light
-Trip The Darkness

-A Warrior's Call
-Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
-The Human Instrument
-Sad Man's Tongue
-Hallelujah Goat
-Who They Are
-The Mirror and the Ripper
-Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza
-Still Counting (Raining Blood)

-Damaged Case
-I Know How To Die
-Stay Clean
-Over The Top
-The Chase is Better Than the Catch
-The One to Sing the Blues
-Going to Brazil
-Killed by Death
-Ace of Spades

-Wake Up Dead
-A Tout Le Monde (w/ Cristina Scabbia)
-Hangar 18
-Foreclosure of a Dream
-Dawn Patrol
-Poison Was The Cure
-Head Crusher
-Public Enemy No.1
-Who's Life (Is It Anyway?)
-Guns, Drugs, and Money
-Symphony of Destruction
-Peace Sells
-Holy Wars... The Punishment Due

Monday, October 15, 2012

'Independent Band of the Year' Reader's Poll 2012!

Post #216
It is time once again for the most anticipated reader's poll of the year! The contest where YOU decide which independent rock-or-metal band will become the next 'Honorary Vice President' of this blog, and reap the benefits of that title; including music reviews, interviews, event promotions, and possible live show reviews. Once again I have gathered a very talented set of seven unsigned, independent hard rock/heavy metal bands from across the country and around the world to compete for your votes.

This year's contestants are...

Fist To The Sky (Chicago, IL)
(Melodic Metal)
A thrash-inspired, melodic-metal band from the Chicago music scene. It is easy to hear the influence of artists like Avenged Sevenfold and Metallica in their sound. Winning a couple battle-of-the-bands contests recently, these guys are on the rise...
Check out 'Down Into Hell' or 'Another Lesson Learned' on their facebook page:

Indolent (McHenry, IL)
(Classic Metal/Thrash)
This band provides a good shot-in-the-arm of metal's timeless core elements: shredding riffs, classic guitar solos, dominant vocals and good 'ole aggression. When asked about their influences, they simply say 'the greats...'
Check out 'Undone' or 'Left Behind' or on their facebook page:

The Atrocities (Kenosha, WI)
This punk/metal/ska quartet from the remote suburban sprawl between Chicago and Milwaukee brings cutting-edge and confrontational lyrics into play with a classic hardcore-punk rock sound. Bringing anti-racist and anti-sexist messages to their growing fan-base is their mission.
Check out 'Martyrdom Superstardom' or 'Comfortable When Dead' on their facebook page:

Shield Of Wings (Chicago, IL)
(Symphonic Metal)
Ever hear of Nightwish? Epica? Well, they better watch out for Shield of Wings! Soaring, operatic female vocals, tempered with occasional death-metal backing vocals, this band truly knows how to fuse the beautiful  elements of metal with the brutal ones!
Check out 'Solarium' or 'Carnival Mirror' on their facebook page:

Tetrarch (Atlanta, GA)
This band can shred with the best of them! Furious tempos, heavy riffs, a blend of hardcore and melodic vocals. Imagine the riffs of Trivium with the vocals of Bullet For My Valentine. Your bones will resonate!
Check out 'We Are The Hunters' or 'The Will to Fight' on their facebook page:

In Serenity (St. Louis, MO)
(Female-Fronted Metalcore)
This band incorporates technical guitar work and keyboards along with a mix of melodic and hardcore vocal elements to get their signature sound. Picture the best parts of In This Moment and Halestorm, fused at the core perhaps...
Check out 'Ghost Town' or 'Blackheart' on their facebook page:

BaleScream (Newcastle, Australia)
(Melodic Death/Hardcore/Thrash)
These guys may be the heaviest contestant this year. A thrashy, melodic death-metal band from down-under... That's right, I'm featuring an independent band from Australia for the first time! Bone-crushing riffs and aggressive vocals galore!
Check out 'Kusanagi' or 'Cyclonic Terror' on their facebook page:

So there you have it! This year's field of contestants. Check out each one, and vote for your favorite in this month's reader's poll.

Good luck to all the bands. May the best band win!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

None The Wiser: 2 Years of Sutured Psyche!

Post #215
On January 28th, 2012, Sutured Psyche returned to the Elbo Room, in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood to celebrate their 2 year anniversary as a band... This show was a special occasion as they chose to invite their fans to bring their own video-recording devices to film the show for a DVD. I took advantage of this opportunity, and filmed my own video that I contributed to their archive for this project. As luck would have it, I was one of very few who managed to capture the full show before running out of storage space or batteries (I barely made it on battery life!)

To be sure, film or no film, Sutured Psyche put on an excellent show! They knew tonight was their night and played with as much fervor as ever...

The show was typical balls-to-the-wall energy on display for Sutured Psyche. Their regular following has probably grown accustomed to their style of play over the last 2 years, but for the occasional new member of the audience catching their show for the first time, it's sure to win some new converts to Bastard Nation (the band's pet-name for their faithful following.) Those in the front row were likely to receive a sprinkling of hard fought sweat from cheesecake (, I mean guitarist!), Ryan Reilly.

The band delivered a great set, featuring several songs from their 6-track EP Bastard Nation, some older original songs of theirs, and a couple newer ones. They even pulled out a cover of 'I Ran' by 80's pop-rockers Flock of Seagulls. The crowd loved every minute of it. By the end of the night, footage had been saved on several hand-held electronic devices, and arrangements were made to get them to the band.

True to his word, band spokesman/guitarist Ryan Reilly gathered all the contributed video clips of the show, and mixed them with the master audio from the show, and has delivered a Live DVD/CD combo pack that is available to all their fans and Bastard Nation at large. It is a really sweet package, too! Not only does it contain a DVD of the full concert, and an audio CD of the set, but Ryan went the extra mile and threw in a ton of extra features. (one might say he ran... he ran all night and day... etc...)

The first treat is the opening track: an animated video of their song 'The Leap' (quite appreciated by die-hard fans, as this song was not performed as part of the live show!). Following the concert footage, there are some documentary-style Bastard-Grams. These were the band's special way of promoting the release of their EP, as they hand-delivered them, along with a message, upon request for any number of occasions.

Some highlights from the show itself:
Crecy. The opening number features an extended bass-guitar intro. Great tone-setter as the band eases into their groove.

Belbo's Stomp. This song sees Sutured Psyche get some of their aggression out. Band members are jumping around the stage, playing off each other's energy. Some of the fans get into the spirit too, as some creative camerawork comes into play. At one point during this song, the camera slowly inverts, so that it seems Dr. Piamon is screaming at you from the ceiling!

Steven. As Adrian Mann joins the band midway through the show, initially disguised as 'Dirk Dastardly'. Immediately before the song starts he says to the audience: "My Brothers, let us play the music of our people." All things considered, this moment seems to sum up the crux of Sutured Psyche and their beloved Bastard Nation... A camaraderie shared through the emotion of the music and lyrics of this band. You feel that Sutured Psyche has a tribal quality to it, and you feel a part of that tribe. The song they proceeded to play was 'Steven', a fan-favorite and one of the band's best known songs. It is a melodic number at the start, and cycles between heavy segments and melodic phrases throughout. The memorable, Shakespearean line of the chorus: 'I demand... I demand my pound of flesh from you.'

Codependent. This song has remained a 'classic' in the eyes of fans. A demo of it was made in the band's early days, but it didn't make the cut for inclusion on their EP (to the dismay of some fans). Well, there is some redemption for it now, since there is now this live version of the song. The band really delivers on this number, perhaps the best performance of the night!

I Ran. The Flock of Seagulls cover. The crowd reaction to this one says it all. Just watch the DVD, or listen to the CD. This was all of Bastard Nation letting loose and havin' a good time! William breaks into an ad-lib salutation to the audience and their faithful support towards the end.

Check out today, and get your copy!

Complete Set List from the show is as follows:
-Ma Gavte La Nata
-Belbo's Stomp
-I Ran
-Trickster, Part 1

Monday, October 1, 2012

Heavy Metal Madness: Sweet Sixteen Summary, Part 2

Post #214
Last month's set of readers polls saw the elimination of 4 more bands in this year's one-of-a-kind tournament. And 4 other bands got ever closer to the coveted title of 'Best Band of All Time' (at least for this blog). Without you making your opinions known with your votes, this blog would just be me picking my favorites all the time, so THANK YOU!

Before I break down all the details, let me say that last month's results were not without controversy! For the first time in this tournament, I had to invoke the tie-breaker rules I laid out in post #166 last October. In that post I stated that in the event of a tie, if the contest has not reached the Final Four, the band with the higher seed within their bracket advances. For the first time, one of the polls last month ended in a tie: Soundgarden and Foo Fighters both gathered 20 votes. Therefor Soundgarden (#7 seed) advanced over Foo Fighters (#11 seed). My apologies to all the Foo Fighters Fans out there who voted, but rules are rules. Next time, remember to get more of your friends to vote, and maybe we can avoid ties in the future? The last thing I'll say on this issue: Voting in the polls is pretty. Voting in the polls is good. All that the Foos needed was one more vote. This is a call to all my past blog-poll voters- come back, vote again, and spread the word!

Now, for the rest of last month's results:
In the Classic Rock bracket, Black Sabbath beat Kiss 33-8. Led Zeppelin beat AC/DC 28-13.
While in the Alternative/Grunge bracket, Alice In Chains upset Nirvana 22-19, and Soundgarden... well, I already told you how they got past Foo Fighters.

Lastly, my recommended songs for those bands now eliminated:
Kiss-War Machine

AC/DC-Hells Bells

Nirvana-All Apologies

Foo Fighters-This Is a Call

...Until the next tournament update, keep voting, and happy headbanging!