Saturday, June 21, 2008

Brief Blasts From Regain Records...

Once again, here are a couple of brief reviews of albums already covered by other writers at Live 4 Metal.

Regain Records is always a reliable label with an excellent roster of mostly Scandinavian bands. Recently, I received promo copies of the latest releases from Grave and Machinery, both from Sweden.



Fist up is "Dominion VIII", the latest from old school, Sunlight Studios- style stalwarts Grave. Tight and focused death metal with nice tempo variation, Grave prove yet again that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Like Unleashed, Dismember, and Entombed, Grave demonstrate that they still have gas in the tank with an excellent album. However, as Cosmo Lee has pointed out, "Dominion VIII" doesn't really add anything to death metal as a whole, but is, once again, a solid release from Grave. You can read Sam Thomas' Live 4 Metal review here.



Next up is Machinery, a melodic power/ thrash metal band with their second full-length, "The Passing". At times reminiscent of Megadeth and Nevermore, Machinery are an excellent band for their genre of choice, but are a bit too melodic for my tastes. However, the musicianship, songwriting skills, and the production displayed on "The Passing" are all excellent. Strawb's review of the album is one of praise, and I urge you to read his review here. I've posted one of the album's more aggressive tracks.

Sorry, songs removed.

Lastly, for reasons really not worth mentioning, I missed both of last week's shows...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Mid Year Report...

The year's not even half over yet, and 2008 is shaping up to be a banner year for metal (especially death metal)! I'm already thinking about my Top Ten for the year, and the second half of the year will have to have some stellar releases in order to bump albums from my partially formulated list that is already nearly complete. In no particular order, here are five awesome releases from 2008 so far...

NACHTMYSTIUM Assassins: Black Meddle Part I (Century Media Records/ Battle Kommand)

PROSTITUTE DISFIGUREMENT Descendants Of Depravity (Neurotic Records)

TOXOCARA The Great Rebellious (Twilight Vertrieb)

LEVIATHAN Massive Conspiracy Against All Life (Moribund Cult)

DECREPIT BIRTH Diminishing Between Worlds (Nuclear Blast Records)

I'm sure that

EARTH The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull (Southern Lord)

and...

MOONSORROW Tulimyrsky EP (Spinefarm)

will find their way on the list (even though Moonsorrow's release is only an EP with covers), as well.

OK, everyone, what else would you add to this list? Am I way off? I'm sure that I've screwed up somewhere.

Incidentally, in hindsight, I probably should have included

SVARTSYN Timeless Reign (Carnal Records)

and

COBALT Eater Of Birds (Profound Lore)

in my 2007 Top Ten List. Seems like I end up kicking myself every year because of overlooked omissions...

Upcoming next week...

Tuesday...



Thursday...



July 11th...



July 27th...



August 1st (monstrous)...



Busy summer, indeed...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Up The Irons! Iron Maiden and Anthrax!



Bands: Iron Maiden, Anthrax

Venue: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine, California.

Date: May 31, 2008

You may find this hard to believe, but the last and only time that I’ve seen Iron Maiden in concert was December 21, 1984, at the Rosemont Horizon outside of Chicago. This was the World Slavery Tour and I had just turned 16 years old. Twisted Sister opened, and I still have fond memories of that show. The mammoth stage show with multiple Eddies, Dave Murray’s guitar solo with “The Star Spangled Banner”, and even Dee Snider insulting a heckler in the crowd are burned into my memories.

I somewhat lost interest in Iron Maiden after “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”, but picked up on them again with “Brave New World”. When I heard about the Somewhere Back In Time Tour and all of the classics to be represented along with the elaborate stage show from 1984-85, I knew that I had to go to this one. I missed them a few months back at The Forum, but was ecstatic to learn that they’d soon be back in Irvine for two shows in late May. I managed to get a decent seat for the Saturday night show at the outdoor venue in suburban Irvine, which, as you might imagine, sold out very quickly.

I was also pleased to learn that Anthrax, another classic band that I haven’t seen since the mid 80s, would also open the show and would have a chance to showcase their new vocalist, Dan Nelson. The venue was already packed when Anthrax took the stage and played an hour long set of classics from “Spreading The Disease” to “We’ve Come For You All”. Highlights included the opener, “Indians”, as well as “Got The Time” and “I Am The Law”. Nelson’s voice is loud, strong, and comes across as a blend between Joey Belladonna’s high-pitched style and John Bush’s rougher vocals. In short, Nelson shows range and I now look forward to a new album from these veterans. Scott Ian also took time to address the crowd and thanked everyone for supporting the band over the years. A great set and I now aim to see Anthrax in a smaller setting as headliners.

Everything I expected from Iron Maiden was present. Simple as that. Hitting a string of classics with concentration upon “Powerslave” and “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”, the earliest song played was “Iron Maiden” and the latest song was “Fear Of The Dark”. All of the elaborate stage effects with the huge backdrop Eddie mannequin swathed in gauze along with the 15 foot Cyborg version decked out in “Somewhere In Time” mode were there, along with flames, fireworks, a rotating back display, an appearance onstage by the entire crew during “Heaven Can Wait”, and more. Notably absent, however, was “Flight Of Icarus” and I would have loved to have heard “Where Eagles Dare”. The three song encore consisted of “Moonchild”, “The Clairvoyant”, and the closer “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. The set lasted two hours.

Set list:

Intro - Churchill's Speech
Aces High
2 Minutes To Midnight
Revelations
The Trooper
Wasted Years
The Number Of The Beast
Run To The Hills
Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
Powerslave
Heaven Can Wait
Can I Play With Madness?
Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden
Moonchild
The Clairvoyant
Hallowed Be Thy Name

More so than any other show that I’ve been to recently, this concert took me back to my youth and that’s an awesome thing. I wasn’t alone in that assessment as a huge percentage of the crowd were old hands such as myself, as well as that of a friend of mine who hasn’t been to a metal show in more than 15 years.

The t-shirt haul (front and back)...





Here's the usual garbage (even worse quality than usual)...

Irvine Crowd...



Anthrax...



Iron Maiden...



Anthrax



Iron Maiden



Iron Maiden (look for the Cyborg Eddie)



Unfortunately, I missed Anaal Nathrakh last week due to a nasty cold that I had just gotten over in time for this show...