Morbid Angel at the Howard Theatre

On Monday the 24th of September 2012 another heavy metal tour came to the Howard Theatre in Washington DC. This time the show was headlined by Morbid Angel, one of the most famous bands from the legendary Tampa, Florida death metal scene. The first band to play was VadimVon, a South Carolina based death metal band, however I wasn’t able to get there in time to see them. The first band I saw perform was Grave, one of the old school Swedish death metal bands. Before Swedish metal became associated with bands like At The Gates, In Flames and Soilwork there was a death metal scene there that rivaled the one Morbid Angel Tour Posterin Tampa at the time. It was led by bands like Entombed, Hypocrisy, Unleashed and Dismember. Grave is one of the few bands from that scene that is not only still around but has also stayed true to their sound. The only member of Grave that is left from those days is vocalist/guitarist Ola Lindgren and he showed the audience at the Howard Theatre that he’s still got it. The band put on a good show with a set list (photo of it here) that showed a pretty good history of the band, considering the time they had to play, as well as featuring a few songs of their latest album, Endless Procession of Souls. They got the pit really going on a few songs and hell, it was great to hear a set full of old school Swedish death metal! You just don’t get a chance to hear that very often any more. The next band up was another Swedish band, though this time of the black metal variety. Dark Funeral has gone through some line up changes since they last toured the US, most notably replacing their vocalist of 15 years, Emperor Magus Caligula. This was their first area appearance with the new vocalist, Nachtgarm, who is also the front man of the German black metal band Negator. While I wouldn’t say he was bad he certainly didn’t live up to the showmanship that Caligula had when on stage with the band. Dark Funeral has always been very apt at maintaining their image, everyone in the band comes out dressed like corpse painted orcs from Lord Of The Rings, complete with leather armor. Well, everyone except Nachtgarm that is, who was wearing one of those Shagrath style black metal dresses and looked more like he fit in a Behemoth video than with Dark Funeral on stage. Dark Funeral has never been the most original black metal band. Their sound is pretty typical of the genre and never really pushed any boundaries, though they do have a few rather stand out songs. The stage show has always helped to keep them from blending in with every other black metal band out there and I guess the new vocalist seemed to just detract from that. Again he wasn’t awful, he just didn’t seem to fit Dark Funeral that well. Perhaps after they record an album with him and he is performing some of his own material live he’ll have a better chemistry with them. Still, the band plays fast paced music and their closing song, My Funeral, got me pumped and ready for the headliner, Morbid Angel.

Aside from this year’s headlining appearance at Maryland Deathfest, Morbid Angel hasn’t played in the area since their show at Jaxx/Empire in April 2006 when they were first touring again because David Vincent had rejoined the band. Since that show they have only put out one album, last year’s dreadful Illud Divinum Insanus which was not only critically panned but also stained Morbid Angel’s reputation among fans. I had just seen another one of the big names from the Tampa scene, Obituary, play at Empire two weeks earlier (my review of that show is here) and they put on a lackluster performance so I was hoping Morbid Angel wouldn’t follow suit. Morbid Angel didn’t disappoint. They put on a brutal show playing many of their older classics. Their set list (photo of it here) had a lot of songs from their album Covenant, with most of the other songs being spread throughout the David Vincent era of the band. They did play one song, Bil Ur-Sag, from the album Formulas Fatal To The Flesh, an album David Vincent was not on. I’ve never seen them play a song with him before that wasn’t from his time with the band, so that was pretty cool actually. Trey Azagthoth did his thing on the side of the stage cranking out classic riffs and wild solos with his trademark long hair obscuring his face the entire show. While Morbid Angel played two songs from their most recent album they were at least two of the more “metal” songs from it. Tim Yeung did a good job behind the kit and Destructhor, playing rhythm guitar (but still had some solos) did a fine job as well, but really the main focus on stage was David Vincent. Morbid Angel is definitely a better band with him fronting them. Between two songs he did mention how he hated DC as it represented everything he hated about the way the world is run, but assured the audience this wasn’t any fault of our own. Definitely not the usual audience ass kissing you hear a front man blabber about whatever town he is in. In all it was really fun to see one of the legendary bands of death metal put on a killer show. My main gripe was that they didn’t play much from either Blessed Are The Sick or Domination but did play my two favorite songs of theirs, Maze Of Torment and Chapel Of Ghouls, and I’ve posted the videos I shot at the show of each song below. Well I hope you enjoyed reading this, now check out the pictures and videos I shot of the bands playing. Be sure to get your ass out to some of the awesome upcoming metal shows going on in the area and help to support the scene you’re a part of!

Grave:

Grave at the Howard Theatre

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Ola Lindgren of Grave

Tobias Cristiansson of Grave

Mika Lagrén of Grave

Dark Funeral:

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Chaq Mol of Dark Funeral

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral

Zornheym of Dark Funeral

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral

Nachtgarm of Dark Funeral

Morbid Angel:

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Destructhor of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel

David Vincent of Morbid Angel

Vektor and Battlemaster at RAS Hall

So last Sunday, the 16th of September 2012, the Philadelphia based thrash band Vektor was finishing up their tour with an afternoon matinee show at the RAS Hall in Washington DC. People often mistakenly call the venue an Ethiopian restaurant however it is actually Jamaican, or more specifically, Rastafarian. Their religion believes that former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie was the second coming of Christ and that is why his image was plastered all over the interior. Anyways, there was a good turn out even though the early show was competing with the Redskins game. Luckily they had some TV’s over the bar that showed the game. The music began with a Chicago based grind band called Worn Out that I didn’t hear but from outside of the venue. They seemed a bit out of place for this show’s line up. The next band up was Midnight Eye, a great local metal band that really started the riff fest that the rest of this show would be. The band’s frontman/guitarist, Simon, is a friend of mine and he set up this show, along with many others around the area. If you want to keep up with the awesome DIY metal shows he puts on you can join his Metal Squad Party Force group on Facebook (here) to be sure you get invited to them all. I don’t have photos of Midnight Eye from Sunday because I hung out at the bar to watch the Skins game while Midnight Eye played and I’ve shot them several times before anyways. However you can see older photos I’ve shot of them here. They were good and it looks like they’re starting to get a more consistent line up now. After they played the Richmond based Battlemaster slayed the place with their Dungeons & Dragons themed thrash metal. Their songs were about things like displacer beasts and cursed boots of perpetual dancing which might have been a bit too nerdy for most in attendance to understand (however I did play some 2nd Edition AD&D back in the day and I got most of their references I think). Regardless of their lyrical content the band can really shred and they were really fun to watch play. You may recognize their vocalist, Andy Horn, as being the recently departed original frontman of another Richmond band, Cannabis Corpse. You could tell he was having fun up there and it was a good show for the band’s first time in DC in about 5 years. Battlemaster’s set was a good lead in for the final band of the evening, Vektor.

I’d never seen Vektor live before and while they are coming to Empire in late October, they’ll be playing a shorter set I’m sure since they will have three bigger bands playing after them (more info on that show here). So that meant the chance to catch them do a full headlining set was a don’t miss opportunity. The band’s main man, David DiSanto, looks like Morbid Angel‘s Trey Azagthoth circa 1990. He was even wearing a cut off Morbid Saint shirt! He also had various metal parts and what seemed like a grate and a circuit board on his guitar which totally fit with the band’s futuristic lyrical imagery. Did I mention they totally killed the place? Vektor has some awesome riffs and the shred factor was off the scale at this show. I like their recorded music but hearing it live just added another whole level of energy and excitement to the songs. They didn’t have a set list for the show so after a few songs they just took requests from people in the audience for what to play next, a sure fire way to please any crowd. I really can’t say enough about how good they were live, just total face melting thrash! If you’re into thrash metal and you missed this show then you fucked up big time. However there’s another great thrash show happening this weekend: The area’s wildest live thrash band, Warchild, will be chugging beers and thrashing people’s faces off Saturday the 22nd at DC9. You can get more info on that show here or give the band a listen here (I recommend the song Every Position, that song rules!). It’s great to see such quality bands playing the area so be sure to get out to some of these great metal shows and support the scene you’re a part of!

Battlemaster:

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Peter Sims of Battlemaster

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Battlemaster at RAS Hall

Andy Horn of Battlemaster

Battlemaster at RAS Hall

Vektor:

Vektor at RAS Hall

Vektor at RAS Hall

David DiSanto of Vektor

Vektor at RAS Hall

David DiSanto of Vektor

David DiSanto of Vektor

Vektor at RAS Hall

Vektor at RAS Hall

David DiSanto of Vektor

Erik Nelson of Vektor

Frank Chin of Vektor

Review Of Kreator and Accept at the Howard Theatre

North American Teutonic Terror Attack Tour
Wednesday the 5th of September 2012 was a night of firsts at the newly renovated Howard Theatre in Washington DC. German metal bands Kreator and Accept, along with Finnish opening act Swallow The Sun, were kicking off their North American Teutonic Terror Attack tour that night. This was also the first real metal show at the Howard Theatre since reopening in April. I say that it was their first “real” metal show because Animals As Leaders opened for indie rock band Thrice there back in May, but that wasn’t a metal show really. The Kreator and Accept show brought out the long hair, tattoos and band logo patch covered battle jackets to the fancy Howard Theatre.

The venue originally opened in 1910 and eventually became DC’s version of the Apollo Theater by catering to a mostly black audience by booking top blues, soul, motown and gogo acts. It closed in the early 1980’s but has been reopened after about $30 million worth of renovations which completely overhauled the exterior and interior. It is located just off of the U Street corridor near both the 9:30 Club and the Howard University campus. The classic styling of the exterior really stands out in this area of the city. The interior is very clean and modern looking Howard Theatre interiorwith the walls adorned with photos of various black performers (such as James Brown and Diana Ross) who, I’d guess, have played there in the venue’s historic past. The staff at the Howard were extremely nice. They were all wearing black suits and were very helpful with any questions one might have. In all honestly, the Howard Theatre seemed like it might be a little too nice for a metal show. You could tell they were new at this whole hosting a metal show thing. For example they brought water down to people in the front rows between bands on a serving tray, which is really kind, but just leaving a couple of pitchers on the bar with some cups would have worked too. They also didn’t have a barrier between the stage and the band, just a couple of bouncers standing where there were gaps in the monitors presumably to prevent people from climbing on stage. They were pretty big guys and it definitely affected the sight lines. There are large screens on either side of the stage that you could watch the show on and there was an upstairs mezzanine with seating, however, that section was closed for this show. The sound at the venue was pretty good and the lighting wasn’t as fancy as the set up at the 9:30 Club but it was pretty bright and made the bands look good. I did have a few gripes with the venue, though nothing too major. The flooring in places was a bit off and had what seemed like air bubbles under it that were a bit awkward to walk on, Beers on tap at the Howard Theatreparticularly in the mosh pit area. They didn’t have a lot of beers on tap, and certainly nothing that could be called a micro brew or local beer. Again, the lack of a photo pit was annoying to me, but I suppose that’s more of an issue for me than most people. Also, they shooed everyone out of the venue after the show very quickly. Did you want to hang out with your friends over a few beers after the show? Too bad, get out. Everyone was out the doors and the bars were down within about 10 to 15 minutes after the show ended. It seemed a bit rude after an evening where the staff was very hospitable the rest of the night. The biggest problem I had was that the show wasn’t very well attended and I really didn’t see the venue do any kind of promotion for this show aside from posting it on their website. Throughout the night people were coming up to me thanking me that my site had told them about this show, which is cool and all but really the venue should have gotten the word out better. This was their first metal show and with several more coming up on the calendar (Morbid Angel, Symphony X, Epica) I was hoping they’d have worked more to get the word out. But hey, I guess that’s my job too. Well, that’s my take on the new Howard Theatre, let’s move on to the bands that played that night.

I completely missed the opening act, Swallow The Sun, because the show started so damn early. 6pm doors, really?!?! They’re a good band but I saw them two years ago with Katatonia and Orphaned Land so I Accept at the Howard Theatrewasn’t too upset I had to miss them. I got there as the classic German metal band Accept was setting up and they took a while to do so. As I mentioned before, this was the first night of the tour and so there are bound to be some issues. On one side of the stage the band’s stacks toppled over, almost into the audience, and they had to put them back up. Technical issues caused the band to take quite a while to set up and the show ended up being delayed considerably. Regardless of all those set backs Accept still put on a really fun show. They formed in the 1970’s and are a bit corny, their most famous song is Balls To The Wall after all, but they sure get the crowd going with their catchy riffs and sing along chorus lines. Udo Dirkschneider, the band’s famous ex-vocalist, hasn’t been in the band Mark Tornillo of Acceptfor several years but Mark Tornillo did a great job fronting for those classic songs and his stage presence kept everything entertaining. Of course lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann was in peak form showing off his ability to make all kinds of wild eyed facial expressions while soloing without looking at his hands. Their set list was a good mix of old and new, and you can view that here. The band really did a great job getting everyone pumped and set the stage for the final band of the night, Kreator.

Kreator is one of the big three of German thrash bands from the 1980’s, and my favorite of the three as well. They’ve had a long career with 13 Mille Petrozza of Kreatorstudio albums to date. That’s a lot of material to try to cover in one set and no matter what they play they’re going to leave some favorites out of the set list (which you can see here). They took a while to take the stage due to more technical difficulties but once they did the shredfest really began. They started off with a few songs from their latest album, Phantom Antichrist, and ended up playing a total of five songs from it. The rest of the set was filled with classic Kreator songs, older and more modern, and their mosh friendly riffs kept the energy level high for most of their set. The band had so much artwork on stage with them it almost looked like a maze, but it did look pretty cool, especially the massive banner in back with the zombie horses. Kreator wasn’t as charismatic on stage as Accept though frontman/guitarist Mille Petrozza did a good job of of keeping people excited between songs. Guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö walked off stage during a song at one point, presumably for technical problems, and came back. His guitar sounded muddy in the mix for most of the set and Kreator’s overall sound didn’t sound as good as Accept had. That’s all probably due to more technical problems that can’t really be blamed on the band. Still it was a hell of a lot of fun as Kreator always brings it to their shows and this night was no exception. It is a shame that the delays made several in the already sparse crowd leave early to be able to make the metro before the trains stopped running. In the end Kreator is still one of the best thrash bands to see live and their performance at the Howard Theatre proved they’ve still got it.

Kreator at the Howard Theatre

After the show I hung outside the venue for a little while talking to people, including a guy I met named Will. He’s the assistant brewer at Port City Brewery which is based in Alexandria, Virginia, and he was handing out flyers for a metal night he’s trying to get started there on September 19th. He seemed cool and you can tell he’s got a real passion for metal. Will said he has been frustrated by the lack of places for metal heads to hang out in the area when there isn’t a concert going on so he figured he’d try to start something up at the brewery he works at. Since he brews the beer while listening to heavy metal it only makes sense that he’d invite people to come out and drink the beer while doing the same! It sounds cool and you can check out the details about the event, including how to submit song suggestions, here. If you’re reading this somewhere else and planning on catching this tour, I shot photos of the merch booth that you can see here and here, which should give you an idea of what the bands will be selling and for how much. Well, I hope you enjoyed this review. You can check out the videos below that I shot, one of Accept and the other of Kreator and if you’d like to see more of my photos from this concert you can see the rest of my shots of Accept here and Kreator here. Stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Review of Mayhem Fest at Jiffy Lube Live

On Sunday the 29th of July 2012 the giant touring metal festival known officially as the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, or just Mayhem Fest for short, came to its Washington DC area stop at Jiffy Lube Live. The venue is actually out past Manassas in Bristow, Virginia and some of the bands addressed the audience as Virginia and others as DC. Anyways, it was a hot day under a brutal sun for this year’s Mayhem Fest. I got there early trying to catch the first couple of bands but the line was so long I missed Richmond’s Saint Diablo and didn’t get in until after their set when the next band was setting up. All day the bands started their sets about seven minutes earlier than the program schedule listed them at which meant you had to get there ahead of time to catch the bands you cared about most. Early in the day I was mostly interested in seeing the local bands since High On Fire had dropped off the tour, so I wandered around for a while getting different directions on where exactly the Sumerian Records stage was. It was in the big fenced off section of the parking lot being completely dwarfed by the much larger Jägermeister stage that was right next to it. Bradley Wyatt of Depths Of MarianaI made sure to get up close to get a few pictures of Depths Of Mariana, a Fredericksburg based metalcore band who had won a local battle of the bands competition to get to play at this stop of the Mayhem Fest tour. The stage was small, only raised a few inches, and was completely covered by a double pointed black tent that made it hard to see the band members if you were more than a few people back. I’m sure nobody running the festival really cared much about the two local bands who had won competitions to get to play on that stage. I asked tons of people who the bands actually were leading up to and at the fest but nobody seemed to know or even care. However I knew it would be a big day for those bands so of course I wanted to at least try to get some nice photos of them. Depths Of Mariana was a pretty typical metalcore band. The vocalist and bass player both had good stage presence and the band seemed to be having a lot of fun just playing at Mayhem Fest. I’m not really a fan of metalcore and can’t really give a good assessment of the band’s sound based on that. The same goes for most of the earlier bands playing that day, but I’ll get into that more towards the end of this post.

After they played I spent some time browsing at some of the merch booths that were set up, getting food and beer, refilling the water bottle I was Joey Belladonna of Anthraxallowed to bring in and holding my breath in the men’s rooms turned urine saunas. By the time Anthrax was getting ready to play I was pretty ready to headbang. They were the headlining act on the Jägermeister stage, which featured a bunch of mostly metalcore (and other variations of the genre) bands throughout the day. Anthrax was a bit of a contrast to that, they’re much older than those other bands, probably old enough to be most of their fathers honestly. They’re also one of the big four of thrash metal. They currently have Joey Belladonna as their Scott Ian of Anthraxvocalist, still rocking the mullet, and he was full of energy up there. Scott Ian and the rest of the band still command a considerable amount of on stage charisma. The band made a good choice to play Caught In A Mosh early in the set which got a bunch of the circle pit loving metalcore fans into their performance. The parking lot area that the stage was set up in was really dirty, the moshers kicked up swirling clouds of dirt under the hot sun, and to make matters worse, due to the venue’s ABC license not covering the parking lot area you weren’t allowed to bring or buy any alcohol in that area. That’s right, you couldn’t actually drink Jägermeister at the Jägermeister stage! Regardless, Anthrax put on a fun, if short, performance. It was a good precursor of what was to come later from the bands that old school metal heads like myself were waiting to see on the main stage.

Right after Anthrax closed out the Jägermeister stage the other local battle of the bands winner, Spiral Fracture, started playing on the Sumerian Stage. Unfortunately for them, at the exact same time Asking Alexandria started playing on the main stage which pulled most of the available Jamil of Spiral Fractureaudience away from their small stage. Spiral Fracture is based out of Richmond and their sound was less ‘core than the other contest winner from earlier. I ended up getting frustrated though when the band’s singer kept pouring opened energy drinks onto the audience by holding an open can and swinging his arm. That’s fine when you’re playing some basement somewhere but when people are bringing expensive equipment to photograph you at a big festival don’t spray them with liquids! I walked away angry before I shot all of the band members to quickly clean off that sticky gunk before it go into my camera’s lens permanently.

Luckily when you’re at a metal festival there’s plenty of good ways to vent your frustration and watching Lemmy Kilmister shred with Motörhead is as good of an opportunity for that as any you’re going to find! The trio was in good form and kept the speed metal going pretty Lemmy Kilmister of Motörheadsolid their entire set. The last time they came through the area they were playing their first show with the ex-Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum. This time they had Mikkey Dee back and you could tell he had better chemistry with the rest of the band. Even so, they gave him a big drum solo that seemed a bit unnecessary considering they were only given about 45 minutes to play. I realize Motörhead have been around a long time and have put out a lot of material, 21 studio albums worth, and not all of it is going to get played in their set, especially a shortened one, but I was really hoping to hear Orgasmatron or maybe even Don’t Need Religion, which I think would have been perfect since they were playing just before Slayer. They did play many of their standards including Killed By Death and Ace Of Spades though, so it wasn’t exactly a bad set list. They put on a good performance and I’m glad to see Lemmy’s still got it on stage.

The next band to play was the band I wanted to see the most, the infamous Slayer. They are another one of the big four of thrash and certainly the most devilish sounding of them. Slayer is a gateway band for a lot of metal heads. At some point a lot of us started listening to heavier and heavier bands until we came across Slayer’s extremely catchy yet inherently evil sounding riffs which opened the door for us to the world of extreme metal. They might be a thrash band but just try to find a death metal band that can’t cover several of their songs. In other words, they’re gods in the world of metal, but if you’re reading this site you probably already knew that. The stage set up was fairly simple yet pretty awesome. They had two giant upside down crosses on stage that Kerry King of Slayerwere made of (fake) Marshall Amps that shot fireballs out of them. There were walls of fire in front of both of those and in the center above everything was a metal Slayer logo that also lit up in fire. Combined with the red lighting they used for much of their set it basically looked like you were in hell watching a metal concert. In other words, it looked totally demonic which set a mood that certainly fit Slayer’s aggressive sound. At the end of this post there are three Slayer videos from the show that you can see the fiery set up in pretty well, especially the third one. They even had the fire timed with the music which sort of reminded me of that YouTube video of the Christmas lights timed to Slayer that goes around every winter (see it here). However this was much cooler to behold! I’ve seen Slayer many times before Gary Holt of Slayerbut this was the first time I have seen them with Gary Holt of Exodus filling in for Jeff Hanneman on guitar. Gary did a great job playing those classic songs many of us in attendance know so well. Tom Araya is really starting to look older these days but he was still up there screaming and shredding like always, albeit without the headbanging as per doctor’s orders. Kerry King was, well, Kerry King, playing those evil riffs that make moshers go crazy in the pit. Most of their set list was taken from Reign In Blood and Seasons In The Abyss, as one would expect. I’d have rather heard Black Magic instead of Hate Worldwide, the sole song from their last album, but that’s really a minor gripe. After they played Angel Of Death they actually performed an encore of South Of Heaven and Raining Blood, which was kind of odd since they weren’t the headlining act, but I’m certainly not complaining.

Slipknot at Mayhem Fest

The next band up was the headlining act, Slipknot. I’m not going to pretend that I’m some old fan of the band, I’m not, but I hadn’t seen them live before and I’ll usually check out any metal band at least once, especially if I’m already at the concert. For starters, the band has a ridiculous number of people on stage, most of whom are unnecessary except in their roles of pumping up the crowd which I found to be rather distracting for the most part. There were eight members on the stage, plus a bass player who was playing backstage somewhere which was a bit weird. I realize that founding member Paul Gray, aka #2, passed away in May of 2010 from drug use, they had his bass on stage for this show as a tribute to him, but to have someone playing with the band from backstage sort of makes the whole band-playing-together-live thing seem a bit disjointed. In all the whole thing seemed like a convoluted circus, but perhaps that’s the angle they were going for, a sort of metal circus or something. There were also several photographers and/or camera men actually on stage, even stepping into the spotlights from time to time, during Slipknot’s set. That seemed very amateurish for a band this size. The band’s masks were throwbacks to their early days, but that doesn’t mean much to me as I’ve not been following them for years. One thing that I thought was cool was that the keyboard player would stage dive into the audience from time to time. You don’t see many big bands like that actually interact with the audience to the point of touching them. The beer keg drum kit on the raising and spinning platform didn’t really interest me, even when the guy was banging it with an aluminum baseball bat in time with the music. In all their show just came off as a big mish mash of gimmicks that didn’t even seem to relate to each other that much. And why the hell do they have two extra drummers in the first place? Joey Jordison, the guy behind the real drum kit, is probably the most talented member of the band and he certainly doesn’t need help in the percussion department. And as far as their musical sound overall…

Slipknot at Mayhem Fest

Well, I could take this time to rant about the kind of metal Slipknot plays but I’m not going to do that. I don’t like their music but then I don’t really like the style of metal they play in the first place so it wouldn’t be fair for me to criticize them for that. They’re still a huge metal band, even without a new album for this tour cycle they’re headlining Mayhem Fest. I heard a lot of trash talk from old school metal heads who were upset, offended even, that Slipknot was headlining over bands like Slayer, Motörhead and Anthrax, but personally I didn’t have a problem with it. Same goes for all the metalcore bands that were playing on the other two stages earlier in the day. It might not be my thing but everyone is at a different place on their musical path. Music means something different to everyone. How we listen, why we listen, how much we listen, what we do while we listen, when and where, there are so many different ways people interpret music and ways we become attached to it. I don’t expect everyone to like the same bands or styles of music or metal that I do, in fact expecting them to would be inviting in conformity. I’d be a liar if I told you there was never a time when I liked some questionable bands, especially when I was younger and first getting my passion for music. Anyone who tells you that they have never liked a band they would now find embarrassing to admit is certainly not being truthful. I remember listening to Def Leppard and other similar acts when I was in elementary school and loving that 80’s pop rock garbage but I also got a copy of Metallica’s Ride The Lightning and that totally changed how I listened to music. We all start somewhere and we move forward, and when Slipknot headlined over Slayer on Sunday it wasn’t a travesty, it was a bunch of people who already like some heavy music getting exposed to Slayer while they waited for their favorite band of the day to play. Maybe most of them hated it, I don’t know, but I’m sure that out of the 20,000 or so people there that at least some of them left wanting to know more about that evil sounding band with all the fire on stage. And like I said earlier, Slayer is something of a gateway band. I guess what I’m saying is, instead of telling someone their taste in music sucks and they don’t belong, expose them to a great band instead. Help them along their path, don’t criticize them for not being where you are. They might never get to where you are and instead forge their own path which takes them on a totally different musical journey in their life. I’m sure some of the people at Mayhem Fest only go to a few concerts every year, and for some this was their first concert ever. There’s no reason to be elitist and tell other people they don’t like metal the right way or that they’re not the right kind of people to like metal. That goes for the hipsters that are “invading” metal right now too. Let’s get more people listening to metal and going to more metal shows! I guess that’s the point of this site in the end anyways. A tour like Mayhem Fest that brings out a lot of younger people to a big metal show and also exposes them to some of the bands us old farts like isn’t a bad thing, it’s great!

In the end I’m really glad I went to Mayhem Fest this year, it was the first time I’ve been to this annual touring metal festival if you can believe that. It was also the first time I was given a press photo pass (except for Slipknot) at a venue this size and while I was a bit nervous I had a hell of a lot of fun shooting bands on such a big stage. It was great experience and I learned a hell of a lot. If you like my photos in this post you can see the rest of my shots from Mayhem Fest here. I guess people liked them because Mayhem Fest posted the link to them on their Facebook page (here) as well. Of course you can check out the three videos of Slayer playing below and I’ve also embedded a video that Mayhem Fest posted with footage of the Bristow date below those. Thanks for getting through my rant and reading to the end of all this, you rule. Stay brutal and remember to support the scene you’re a part of!

Review Of Iron Maiden at Jiffy Lube Live in 2012

Iron Maiden is one of the world’s most famous metal bands and it’s always a big deal when they come to town. They played at Jiffy Lube Live (formerly Nissan Pavilion) on Saturday June 30th as the DC area stop on the Maiden England Tour and of course I was there. It was a scorching hot day and it stayed hot even after dark. There was a massive storm that swept through the night before and many people still didn’t have power so this show was a bit of an escape for people who were getting cabin fever. Iron Maiden draws a bunch of metal heads from across the genre lines and this show was no different. Since they’re one of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands they’re old school enough that parents bring their kids and everyone enjoys the show. There was also a big draw from places like Richmond and Virginia Beach since the tour wasn’t stopping anywhere closer to those areas.

The parking lot opened at 4pm and the gates at 6pm but opening act Alice Cooper didn’t start til almost 7:30pm. In other words, there was plenty of time to grill and drink a few before in the hot sun before the show. I saw Alice Cooper in 2010 opening for Rob Zombie at Merriweather Post Pavilion and I was really blown away by his live show then (check out my review of that show here). However this performance wasn’t even close to as good as that one. They didn’t have nearly as elaborate of a stage set up and other than Alice’s trademark decapitation by guillotine they didn’t really do any of the entertaining stunts on stage. This left a heavy focus on the music which, let’s be honest here, is a bit dated. I liked his 2010 show so much that I had high hopes for this one but it was a total let down. At least he played Feed My Frankenstein, the song everyone knows of his after being in the movie Wayne’s World, which always gets me to chuckle a little.

OK so surely Iron Maiden wouldn’t disappoint right? Long time readers of the site will remember my review of their last concert in the area (read it here) back in July of 2010 wasn’t exactly glowing. Back then the set list wasn’t great and the weather was awful on top of it all. This year’s tour is a sort of throwback theme to the Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son era of the band and the set list was probably the best thing about this show. They played five songs off of Seventh Son, including the title track which they hadn’t played in over 20 years before this tour. They also played a ton of crowd pleasing classic tracks like The Trooper, Run To The Hills and Number Of The Beast. They also played some more obscure songs for the old school fans such as The Prisoner and Afraid To Shoot Strangers. There were a couple hits I’d have liked to have heard that weren’t played, Hallowed Be Thy Name is a personal favorite of mine they chose not to perform, however they did play a 14 song set with a three song encore and really nothing they played wasn’t worth including in the set. You can check out the set list for yourself below, keep in mind the covers and Churchill thing were recordings.

Iron Maiden Setlist Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, VA, USA, Maiden England - North American Tour 2012

So aside from the set list, the show itself was fun as hell. There were lots of back drops and Bruce Dickinson costume changes (I always jokingly hope he’ll come out in a gold plated diaper just once for the lulz!). Of course there were strategic pyrotechnics and a few Eddie appearances as well. Basically it was the action packed show you’d expect from Iron Maiden. Bruce Dickinson was running around the stage, well, mostly on the big raised up stuff on stage. My only problem with his performance was his voice seemed a bit off in a few places. He seemed very conscious of this though and while his voice kept up on most of those classic chorus lines it was on some of the verses that his voice seemed to waver a bit. Still, he handled it like a pro and kept his best moments for when everyone was really paying attention to his lines the most. Maiden’s triple guitarist shred fest was in full effect as well, switching seamlessly between leads and solos, even when they shifted to different band members. Aside from some of the nuances of the set list, there wasn’t much at this show you wouldn’t expect to see if you’ve seen Iron Maiden a few times before, but that isn’t a bad thing with a band that is known for consistently having great performances. For newer fans this was a great show to catch for a first Iron Maiden concert. Sorry I don’t have any photos, the band wouldn’t give me a photo pass because they have some policy about not giving them to online only publications. That kind of sucks doubly because I haven’t seen a live review of this show with photos from any of the local newspapers either, so I guess everyone loses on quality photos at this concert. Before the show I ran into one of the DC Brau guys, a local brewery in Washington DC, and it’s great to know some of them are metal heads. This also might explain why some of their beers have metal names like On The Wings Of Armageddon and Burial At Sea. I ran in to a lot of friends at the show and it’s always nice to see so many of the area’s metal heads all out like this. After the concert I drunkenly handed out a bunch of stickers to people stuck in traffic in the parking lot. In all, it was a hell of a lot of fun and totally worth the hang over the next day. If you’ve got some cool pics or videos feel free to post links to them in the comments below, or even if you’ve got a fun story about your experience there. Sorry it took so long to get up but my internet still hasn’t been restored since the storm which makes running a website kind of hard to do. Until next time, keep it metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Heritage Hunter Tour At The Fillmore Silver Spring Concert Review

Wednesday the 9th of May 2012 was a rainy day in the Washington, DC area, perfect weather for a mid-week, indoor concert. The Heritage Hunter Heritage Hunter TourTour brought the impressive line up of Opeth, Mastodon and Ghost to the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, that night and I finally got a chance to check out this venue. The venue itself has some pretty cool art and design on the walls, the collage of upcoming (and past) concert posters around the main floor’s elevator was pretty cool looking, and the paintings in the stairways were trippy to say the least. The venue is laid out similar to the 9:30 Club with a second floor that is cut out so you can view the stage from that level. This was my biggest problem with the venue however, as the lines of sight on the second floor were not good at all unless you were on the rail, and even then they weren’t great. They had some concrete ledge/steps sort of like at the 9:30 Club, however they are so far back that you cannot watch the show from there at all, and I’m over six feet tall so it isn’t like I’m just too short. This was one of the few poor design choices I found at the venue and luckily this show wasn’t sold out because that would leave a lot of people wishing they could see. There is a VIP section with seats and tables on the second floor as well, and these ring the second floor’s edge, though they certainly block the view for regular ticket holders. I guess that’s an option if you Fillmore Artwant to be sure you get a good view, however something seems just wrong to me about paying extra so you can sit down to watch a metal show. They had several working bars around the place, even the basement bathrooms and coat check, with no view of the stage upstairs, had a fully stocked bar. The venue’s sound wasn’t bad at all and the stage lights were really great, particularly during the first two sets. They have a food menu (see it here) which even has multiple vegetarian options. The bar’s prices aren’t any better than at the 9:30 Club. Alcohol prices weren’t posted anywhere, I’d assume to get people to not realize how much they’re spending until they get the bill at the end of the night. To give you an idea of their prices, I saw a bottle of Heineken poured into a cup for $7 before tip. Anyways, enough about the venue, let’s get to the bands.

The mysterious band Ghost was the opening act for the night. Their last stop in the area was a sold out show at the Rock & Roll Hotel on January 19th and the lead vocalist, Papa Emeritus, sounded very poor then and Papa Emeritus of Ghostcouldn’t hit his high notes. This wasn’t a problem at the Fillmore show at all and the band performed very well. Ghost is a very dramatic band on stage with Papa Emeritus making all kinds of poses that, as a photographer, are totally fun to shoot. Ghost’s theatrics also made them well suited to the bigger stage and the excellent lighting rig the Fillmore provides. Ghost really put on a great show and the 30 minute set seemed to fit them well as they played most of Opus Eponymous, their debut album and only release, in that time.

The second band to play that night was Mastodon, who is probably the biggest band from Georgia centralized sludge metal scene. They were Troy Sanders of Mastodonco-headlining this tour with Opeth, apparently alternating which band headlined each night and this night we had Opeth playing last. I’ll be honest with you here and admit I’ve never been a huge fan of Mastodon, though on this night it seemed like their set’s focus on their latest album, The Hunter, didn’t go over that great with most of the audience either. They played the 9:30 Club back on November 27th to promote this album already, so you’d think they could have changed up their set list a bit by now. Midway through their set it just seemed like more of the same and you could tell people were waiting to hear the classic songs that made them fall in love with the band. When they finally started playing some of their older material the crowd really got into the show, but by then they were wrapping up their set. Kind of a downer to end that way but at least they weren’t the last band playing that night.

The final band to perform was the Swedish progressive metal band Opeth. Well, they are certainly starting to lean further away from being a true “metal” band though they do still put on a good show. Their set list wasn’t much Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opethdifferent from the one they played at Rams Head Live in Baltimore back on November 1st, although this time there was no legendary Bloodbath performance to end the night. They did play a shorter set this time as well, only about an hour and fifteen minutes long, though honestly that was probably a good amount. Opeth’s set list also weighed heavy on their latest album, Heritage, which is a bit controversial among fans because it only has clean vocal singing with no guttural growling. This takes an element away from their songs, and thus the live show, as one of Opeth’s strengths has always been the seamless weaving of the lighter and heavier aspects of progressive metal. In fact, I’d say their manipulation of dynamic contrast is a large part of the band’s overall appeal and one of the things that makes their sound unique. Even so, Opeth writes very good songs and it’s not like they simply suck now, it just seems like something is missing. This was really notable when they played Demon Of The Fall, one of the few older songs they performed, which I thought was their best song of the night. That was the Opeth I wanted to see. Those days seem to be coming to a close and at the end of their set I still just wanted to hear them play Bleak.

In all the show was a lot of fun for me. I thought all the bands were relying too heavily on their latest output (I suppose Ghost can get a pass since they only have one release) especially considering they had all played the area to promote those albums. I’m not saying the bands shouldn’t play new material, but throw your fans a few bones here! At the end of the show I saw a curious thing, the staff at the Fillmore was handing out tickets, for free, to see the Saints & Sinners Tour with Emmure as well as tickets to see Meshuggah, Baroness and Decapitated, both of which will be at the Fillmore later this month. Perhaps they aren’t selling that well, I don’t know, but that was kind of cool. During Opeth’s last song I headed outside to hand out flyers for DCHeavyMetal.com. Several people tried to speak to me but in the flood of people walking by, and with my hands full of flyers, I simply didn’t have time to to talk. I didn’t want to come off as “too cool” or something and usually I love chatting with fans of the site so the next time you see me be sure to say hi.A Nameless Ghoul of Ghost Also, if you like the photos I shot in this review you can see the rest of my photos from this show, including shots of the set lists, on my Flickr page here (some of my photos were also used in a review of the show written by Catherine Lewis for DCist here). Until next time, stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!