Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Unleashed Clip

Here's a decent clip of Unleashed from the February 18th show. I've also begun work on my next round of reviews. Check out the Pipeline (sidebar) periodically.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Concert Reviews!!

Two Concert Reviews

Bands: Destruction/ Hirax/ Into Eternity/ Anger As Art

Location: The Knitting Factory, Hollywood, California

Date: February 17th, 2007

The Knitting Factory is a small club in Hollywood with two stages: one small stage in the front bar, and the main stage down a hallway. The main stage area has a capacity of only a couple of hundred, and is a bit more intimate than, say, the House Of Blues in West Hollywood. Thanks to Dave Brenner at Earsplit, I had free tickets for a friend and myself for the finale of the Thrash ‘til Death tour.

At any rate, there were a few local bands given the opportunity to perform on the front bar’s stage prior to the main show, but I bypassed them completely to get a seat (after getting a Destruction “Thrash Anthems” T-shirt) on the balcony right next to the mixing board for the entire evening. Taking a look at the crowd, I noted a mix of young kids and more than a few late thirty/ early forty somethings such as myself. Soon after I settled in, local L.A. regulars Anger As Art took the main stage and ran through a 25 minute or so set of hardcore-tinged thrash metal. For those of you not aware of Anger As Art, they’re fronted by Steve Gaines, who also fronted the old 80s L.A. thrash band Abbatoir from way back when. I’ve seen them before, and they put on a good set that was well received by the crowd.

Up next was Canadian melodic thrash metal band Into Eternity, whose latest album, “The Scattering Of Ashes”, has been critically well received. Their sound was a bit off at first, but that was soon corrected and they blew through a 30 minute or so set consisting mostly of material from “The Scattering Of Ashes”, as well as featuring flashy guitar work from Tim Roth and a good drum solo.

Crowd anticipation was growing for the next band, L.A.’s legendary Hirax. I haven’t listened to Hirax for about 20 years or so (remember the screaming egg cover art for “Raging Violence”?), so I was curious to see how they’d do. Frankly, I was blown away. The crowd went absolutely apeshit during the set, and the drummer, Fabricio Ravelli, was phenomenal, absolutely beating the shit out of his kit. Katon W. De Pena was a great frontman, alternately praising the crowd for their enthusiasm, support, and participation, as well as putting on a great show. At one point, a skinny kid in glasses was thrown up onto the stage from crowd surfing and De Pena grabs the kid in a hug, and has him scream along into the microphone for a few moments before tossing him back. Hirax’s set was very impressive and had it all: presence, showmanship, and power. Fantastic!

After a long changeover of 45 minutes, Destruction finally takes the stage. For those of you familiar with my writings, you’ll recall that I’ve never seen this legendary band live, although I’ve been listening to them since 1984. Naturally my anticipation and expectations were high, especially after following a phenomenal set from Hirax. Opening with “Curse The Gods”, Destruction proceeds through a string of classics appearing on the “Thrash Anthems” album as well as a few recent gems, such as “Nailed To The Cross”. During their long set, Schmier even took a request of “Invincible Force” and also had the roadies pass out water bottles to the crowd, now exhausted and stifling in the heat. Finally, Destruction closes with “Bestial Invasion” and “Total Desaster”. Prior to finishing, Schmier also hinted at the possibility of a Destruction/ Sodom/ Kreator tour of America, which, as you might guess, was greeted with a roar from the appreciative crowd.

Frankly, this was a fantastic show and I finally arrived home at about 2:00 AM (way too late) in the morning. After a few hours sleep …round two.


Bands: Unleashed/ Krisiun/ Belphegor

Location: The Key Club, West Hollywood, California

Date: February 18th, 2007

Less than 24 hours later and with my ears still ringing, I arrive at the Key Club in time to catch local death metal act Letum Ascensus as one of the evening’s openers. I had just recently seen this band open up for the Dark Funeral/ Enslaved show a few weeks back and wasn’t overly impressed, but they were much better this evening with a tighter set and an excellent, new drummer. At any rate, my curiosity was piqued enough to keep an eye on them for the future. While waiting around after their set, I noticed more than a few familiar faces in the crowd from the previous evening’s Destruction show.

Next up was Belphegor, whose last album, “Pestapokalypse VI”, made my 2006 Honorable Mention list. Playing a rather short set on a darkened stage, Belphegor blew through songs from “Goatreich-Fleshcult” as well as “Pestapokalypse VI” and were given a good response from the crowd. Lille Gruber, the session drummer filling in from Defeated Sanity, did an excellent job and was most impressive. I even had a chance to greet and welcome the bassist to the U.S after their set in the basement near the merchandise tables.

Frankly, although Unleashed was headlining, I was there to see Krisiun. “AssassiNation” was my #2 album for 2006, and still sees heavy rotation in my stereo. They are also phenomenal live and can be every bit as mind altering in concert as, say, Slayer. Krisiun just blew me away. Playing a long set, highlights for me were “Vicious Wrath”, “Bloodcraft”, and the closer, “Conquerors Of Armageddon”. The only slight disappointment in their set was the absence of “Refusal”, my favorite song from the last album. Krisiun is rapidly becoming one of the few bands that I’ll go see every time that they appear in Los Angeles.

After a short changeover, Unleashed takes the stage and, although I appreciate this band, they’re not a personal favorite of mine, and I left after about four or five songs. This was at about 12:30 AM and I was thoroughly exhausted after two back-to-back marathon concerts. However, I will note that Unleashed plays songs from each of their albums on this tour and I did get to hear “Never Ending Hate” from “Shadows In The Deep”. I would also recommend “Midvinterblot” to anyone.

At any rate, both concerts were excellent, but I need a break. I’ll skip the L.A. Murderfest coming up and get myself geared up for the upcoming 1349 and Dimmu Borgir shows.

I have additional photos posted here and you can see all of the YouTube vidoes through the Widget in the sidebar, or via this link. Over the course of the next week or so, I'll periodically post some of the better videos after being re-sized for better resolution. Here are two pictures, one of Krisiun and the other is Destruction.





I also encourage you to look at my latest reviews at L4M. Once again, feel free to provide criticism.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Upcoming...

First of all, there are some of my new reviews posted at L4M, namely Insomnium and Onslaught. Check them out and feel free to disagree with me and, if you wish, post a grievance.

This Saturday is the Destruction/ Into Eternity/ Hirax show at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, and the Unleashed/ Krisiun/ Belphegor show is this Sunday at the Key Club in West Hollywood. I'll have Flickr photos, YouTube video clips (crap quality), and brief reviews of each show in the near future. After that, the next batch of shows coming up are the Los Angeles Murderfest on March 24th and 25th, and the 1349 show on April 13th. Confirmed headliners for the Murderfest are, so far, Pig Destroyer, Brutal Truth (legends), Atheist, Repulsion, and Obituary. There are definitely some intriguing, pioneering names on the list (bands that haven't been around in years), but I'm not sure if I'll attend as I can only get away with so many concerts. However, I definitely will attend the 1349 show.

Lastly, special thanks to Steve Green, our illustrious editor at L4M, for posting my blog on the site, and I wish him all the best regarding the launch of Live4Metal.biz. Please check out the new site for merchandise.

Just for the Hell of it, here's a clip from Dark Funeral at the Key Club last month.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Top Ten Of 2006 (and more)

For various reasons, L4M will not, unfortunately, publish a listing of the writers' top ten lists. Therefore, I'll post mine here.

Top Ten Of 2006 (and more)

Once again, this is an impossible list to compile, mostly due to the sheer quantity of excellent releases. You may or may not agree, but here are my picks.

1) Gorgoroth- "Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam". Easily the best black metal release of the year comes from Gaahl and company.
2) Krisiun- "AssassiNation". Essentially playing in the same style as all of their other albums, this is simply their best effort. Crushing.
3) Carpathian Forest- "Fuck You All!!!" Bay area thrash disguised as black metal. They won’t win awards for their personal hygiene, but this is a great album.
4) Merrimack- "Of Entropy And Life Denial". The French BM scene is one of the strongest.
5) Antaeus- "Blood Libels". More blistering black metal from France. This will flatten you.
6) Xasthur- "Subliminal Genocide". Malefic perfects his art.
7) Deicide- "The Stench Of Redemption". Essentially, Deicide is a new band with this release. Comeback album of the year.
8) Keep Of Kalessin- "Armada". I was just blown away by the guitar work.
9) Misery Index- "Discordia". Fast, technical DM.
10) Urgehal- "Goatcraft Torment". Another great, straightforward BM album.

Honorable mentions: Suffocation- "Suffocation". Grave- "As Rapture Comes". Anaal Nathrakh- "Eschaton". Putrid Pile- "The Pleasure In Suffering". Celtic Frost- "Monotheist". Incantation- "Primordial Domination". Nachtmystium- "Instinct: Decay". The Ruins Of Beverast- "Unlock The Shrine". Drudkh- "Blood In Our Wells". Negura Bunget- "Om". Black Funeral- "Ordog". Kampfar- "Kvass". Insomnium- "Above The Weeping World". Motorhead- "Inferno". Napalm Death- "Smear Campaign". Belphegor- "Pestapokalypse VI". Vader- "Impressions In Blood". Anata- "The Conductor’s Departure". Gorod- "Leading Vision". Skinless- "Trample The Weak, Hurdle The Dead". Devourment- "Butcher The Weak". Voivod- "Katorz". I- "Between Two Worlds". Too many more to mention, this honorable mentions list is already far too long. Aren’t we all just so lucky that there are so many great bands? Metal as an art form is stronger than ever.

Disappointments: Satyricon- "Now, Diabolical" (maybe I just didn’t get it). Slayer- "Christ Illusion" (certainly not a bad album, but it’s evident that their best days are far behind them). Blut Aus Nord- "MoRT" (just not up to par with the absolutely brilliant "The Work Which Transforms God").

Fantastic live shows: Cannibal Corpse/ Dying Fetus/ Necrophagist/ Unmerciful: HOB, West Hollywood. Celtic Frost/ Sunn O)))/ Goatwhore: HOB, West Hollywood. 1349/ Nokturne et al: Safari Sam’s, Hollywood. Nile/ Hypocrisy et al: Key Club, West Hollywood. Obituary et al: The Whisky, West Hollywood. Emperor at the Key Club in West Hollywood was mildly disappointing (no Samoth).

Please feel free to provide criticism.