Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dimmu Borgir Review!!

Bands: Dimmu Borgir, Unearth, Devil Driver, and Kataklysm

Location: The Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, California.

Date: May 17th, 2007

“In Sorte Diaboli” will no doubt grace many top ten lists for 2007, probably mine included. With this in mind, it is indeed quite a privilege to have Dimmu Borgir begin their tour to promote said album here in the United States. So, it was definitely with enthusiasm that I made my way to L.A.’s rather historic, and quite beautiful, art deco-styled Wiltern Theater on a Thursday night to see Dimmu Borgir with Unearth, Devil Driver, and Kataklysm as support. In addition, thanks to the efforts of Steve Green, L4M’s editor, and the good folks at Nuclear Blast, I was also able to secure an opportunity to photograph the show.

Things started off on the wrong foot immediately. I was informed just prior to the show of the many ground rules put into place to restrict the photography. I was initially a bit disappointed but I would certainly, if somewhat dutifully, follow the instructions. In addition, the morons that run this city had staged an immigration rally (for you non-Americans, this issue is currently a really big deal in American domestic politics) just down the street from the theater, which snarled the already shitty traffic in L.A. even further. Just great. Luckily, anticipating L.A.’s penchant for traffic nightmares, I left my house with just enough time to spare.

I arrived at the Wiltern just in time to catch the first band, Kataklysm. What?! I thought that Kataklysm was the main support! Not so. What an insult, frankly, to this great, long running and hard working band. The theater’s manager leads me down to the photo pit, about 25 feet or so front and center and slightly above the stage. Sure enough, three songs into the performance, I’m tapped on the shoulder and led back to the manager’s office where I have to leave my camera. Luckily, I’m able to make my way back towards the front of the crowd to catch the remainder of Kataklysm’s approximate one half hour set. Kataklysm’s set was excellent, with very tight playing and great sound. The band’s finish was “Shadows And Dust”, and received an enthusiastic response from the appreciative L.A. crowd.

Up next was Devil Driver and I didn’t bother to go get my camera and repeat the procedure all over again. This time, I staked out a spot fairly close to the stage anyway and sat back to enjoy a great set from Devil Driver. The band is beginning to cultivate an American image similar to Superjoint Ritual, with references to Johnny Cash, lots of “Fuck you!”s and so forth, and, frankly, it works. They delivered a blistering set that included some material from their upcoming album. Watch out for the song called “Clouds Over California” on the new album, it was a killer.

Unearth came on next, and I immediately headed for the lobby. Mallcore bores me and was drastically out of place on this tour (especially as main support), the adolescent weenies that ate it all up notwithstanding. Their set, what I saw of it for the first song, consisted of extremely annoying strobe lights and even had a beer bong as a prop. Come on!

I joined the rest of the photographers at the front outside of the manager’s office, where just about everybody was bitching, to get my camera. We’re led back to the photo pit and Dimmu Borgir finally takes the stage. I’m snapping away madly and barely have time to pay attention to the songs and relax. Yep, three songs into the set, we dutifully go back to the office and then race back in an attempt to squeeze back in to the show. Damn near impossible, as you would no doubt guess, as the lobby had emptied and the Wiltern was at full capacity (the show had sold out). One of my fellow photographers and I glumly found a mediocre spot near the far right side, and I finally settle down to concentrate on the show. The set list is great, with songs ranging from “Stormblast” to a few new songs from “In Sorte Diaboli”, as well as a kick ass drum solo from Hellhammer. A crowd favorite was “The Serpentine Offering”, which included the drum solo. Yes, you just have to take a moment and realize that you’re watching black metal royalty here, folks. Shagrath’s stage presence is also excellent, and he profusely thanked the crowd for the support. Finally, at about 11:30pm or so, it was all over after a two-song encore.

After all of that, my photos didn’t turn out. In order to compensate for the lack of a flash, my camera left the shutter open for a long enough period to blur the images. Oh, well, some of my camera phone photos were a bit decent. My problems and own stupidity notwithstanding, this was an excellent, professional show and you’ll no doubt enjoy it when it comes to your town.

Here's a couple of photos...

Kataklysm



Devil Driver



Dimmu Borgir



Dimmu Borgir



Here's a Dimmu Borgir clip...



As usual, you can see all of my photos on the sidebar, or here at my Flickr page.

You can also see all of the videos through the Widget on the sidebar or here.


Next up is the Necrophagist-headlined Summer Slaughter tour at the HOB in West Hollywood on June 16th! In addition, I've heard that Nachtmystium will open for Mayhem's upcoming U.S. tour!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More Knitting Factory Madness...

Church Of The 8th Day has another flier out for an upcoming show on June 24th. Long running DM band Sadistic Intent headlines. Note the presence of Merciless Death. Hmmmmm...let's see...Necrophagist et. al. on the 16th with this as a follow up?



I'm getting geared up for Dimmu Borgir next week and I'm pissed that the Angelcorpse/ Watain/ Nachtmystium tour isn't going to make it to the West Coast.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Heaven And Hell!!! Review!!!

Bands: Heaven And Hell, Megadeth, and Machine Head

Location: Los Angeles Forum, Inglewood, California.

Date: April 25th, 2007.

You better believe that I was going to this one! “Heaven And Hell” and “Mob Rules” were amongst the first albums that I ever bought after discovering Black Sabbath when I was about 12 years old or so. Over the years, I’ve also enjoyed Dio’s first couple of solo albums, but I never got a chance to see the Dio version of Black Sabbath as Dio, alas, left the band immediately after the show at Poplar Creek in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, near where I grew up, at the conclusion of the “Mob Rules” tour. I didn’t go to that show (I was still too young at the time), but I managed to pick up my first black t-shirt, a 1981 tour shirt.



Naturally, I was ecstatic to hear about this reunion tour of sorts, Sharon Osbourne’s paranoid histrionics notwithstanding. So, I eagerly made my way on a Wednesday night to the 20,000-seat L.A. Forum, an arena in Inglewood, California, for the Heaven And Hell tour with openers Megadeth and Machine Head. I headed immediately for the merchandise tables (so did everyone else) and bought two shirts, one with the “Heaven And Hell” album cover, and the second being the “Live Evil” album cover. Afterwards, I found my seat in the lower mezzanine (the general admission floor was well sold out and I had procrastinated) to watch Machine Head. Machine Head has always been a band trying to live up to their monstrous debut, although I do like their last two albums. Unfortunately, their set was exceptionally short, consisting of just four songs with “Davidian” as the closer. I would guess that their whole purpose for being on the bill was to provide samples for the sound engineers for the remainder of the show, as their sound was a bit muddy. Rob Flynn did take a few moments, though, to honor Dimebag Darrell, which was well appreciated by the slowly gathering crowd.

The crowd was pretty much at full strength for Megadeth. Megadeth rewarded the appreciative crowd with a string of classics, mostly covering material from “Peace Sells…” to “Countdown To Extinction” with the inclusion of “The System Has Failed” and their latest opus, “United Abominations” (specifically, “Washington Is Next!”) I’ve never been a huge fan of Megadeth, but their set was excellent with the encore being “Holy Wars…”

Crowd anticipation continued to build for the appearance of Heaven And Hell. Finally, the band appears with a strong, clear sound composed of thundering riffs from Tony Iommi, a loud bass from Geezer Butler, strong vocals from Ronnie James Dio, and an excellent, punishing performance from Vinny Appice. A strong stage show accompanied with moving lighting gantries, backdrop film, and pyrotechnics. Ultimately, over one quarter of the Dio-era discography was played with such notables as “The Sign Of The Southern Cross”, “Children Of The Sea”, “Lady Evil”, “Voodoo”, “Computer God”, “Falling Off The Edge Of The World”, and the main show closer, “Heaven And Hell”. A thundering drum solo from Appice was present, as well as two new songs from the Dio-era compilation that was just released. The encore was “Neon Knights”. Suffice to say, this was a great show with plenty of nostalgia for myself and the other older people in the crowd (at least one half of the audience appeared to be over thirty five).

In closing, this was the first arena level show that I’ve attended since the 2004 Ozzfest, and I’m disappointed to some degree. For some reason, arena level shows seem to bring out the worst in some people, as the crowd contained a sizable contingent of white supremacist/ redneck trailer trash from San Bernardino and Riverside (Homicide, Suicide, Rivercide!) counties that were drunk and picking fights. I saw their ilk at the 2004 Ozzfest and was disappointed to see these scumbags show up for this one. Go back to the trailer from which you crawled out from under! At any rate, I wouldn’t let these assholes ruin a great show.

Here are some crap pictures...

The L.A. Forum



Machine Head



Megadeth



Heaven And Hell



As usual, you can find all of the crap photos on the Slide on the sidebar, or here at my Flickr page. I also shot some crap videos, as well. You can access them through the Widget on the sidebar or here at my YouTube page.

Here's a Heaven And Hell clip...



Next up is Dimmu Borgir!!!