Review of Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

On Saturday, March 5th, the Fillmore in Silver Spring hosted a sold out show headlined by the masters of demonic thrash, Slayer. This bill was pretty stacked as the two support bands, Bay Area thrashers Testament and UK based melodic death band Carcass, have both headlined the Fillmore in the past. The line to get in wrapped around the building early and the place was already pretty packed before the first band took the stage.

Carcass started things off with a short set, they only played for 40 minutes, but managed to get through 10 songs in that time. The band didn’t talk much between songs and really made the most of their time. Their set consisted of songs from Heartwork (2), Necroticism (3) and their latest album, Surgical Steel (4) plus “Genital Grinder” from Reek Of Putrefaction. Their set was short but sweet and the band kept it tight, you really weren’t going to see a better set from these guys in just 40 minutes and I wondered how Testament would look by comparison going on after such a great set by Carcass.

Testament followed with a set that wasn’t quite as energetic as the one Carcass played but the audience still went nuts for it. Vocalist Chuck Billy was doing his best air guitar throughout the set while Alex Skolnick showed off his impressive actual guitar skills. Testament’s set consisted of just eight songs with a focus on their best hits from the 80s and 90s. They are always entertaining live and Testament can still shred but I still think of the three bands that played they were the least compelling. Testament’s set was also 40 minutes and when they finished a big curtain went up in front of the stage while Slayer set up.

Finally the curtain fell and Slayer launched into “Repentless,” the first of five songs they would perform off their newest album of the same name. I know the current Slayer line up has its doubters but I’m not one of them after having seen both the original line up and the current one several times now. The band is still very tight and intense live and this night was no exception. Paul Bostaph really punches it behind the kit and Gary Holt is always very animated on stage; you can tell he’s having a blast up there. He brought out that crazy looking guitar that is painted using several pints of his own blood too (see photo below). When Slayer played the Fillmore Silver Spring last, in November 2013, their set list was a sort of “best hits” while Saturday’s show certainly had more of Slayer’s material from the past decade in there. That said, they played for an hour and 45 minutes so there was plenty of time to get many of those classic older Slayer tunes. The final four songs they played are pretty hard for any metal band to match, “South Of Heaven,” “Raining Blood,” “Black Magic” and “Angel Of Death.” Some people were hoping for an encore after that but seriously, what more could you ask for? Slayer might be older and have a different line up now but they really haven’t lost a step or any of that demonic intensity they’re known for and this show just proved it, once again.

Below are my shots of the bands that night, you can click on any one of them to see it full sized or click here to see the entire set (including photos of the set lists).

Carcass:

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament:

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer:

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Review of Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

On Tuesday, September 22nd of 2015, Ghost kicked off the first show of their US tour when they played the Fillmore Silver Spring, coincidentally the same day that the pope arrived in Washington DC. The mysterious Swedish band is always a spectacle to see live with their elaborate unholy church theme. While their catchy songs are on the lighter side of the metal spectrum, their live show has always been the main attraction for this band.

The only opening act at this show was Purson, a London based psychedelic rock band. I only caught the end of their set (there was a huge line to get into the show) but I wasn’t too impressed by what I did hear. The music was fairly standard for the style and not really that interesting to me. Vocalist/guitarist Rosalie Cunningham was wearing an extremely low cut, skin tight catsuit that certainly got her lots of attention for anything but her music. I couldn’t help feeling like I’d just seen the same shtick when Lucifer opened for High On Fire and Pallbearer at the Baltimore Soundstage last month.

Ghost is known for their stage set up which resembles the inside of a cathedral complete with an imitation stained glass backdrop. The band is anonymous so they all wear masks to hide their identities, a gimmick that has led to much speculation about who the band members actually are. The instruments in Ghost are all played by the “Nameless Ghouls” who were wearing metallic masks with devil horns and no mouths. The vocals are handled by Papa Emeritus III, an unholy pope with a skull painted mask on his face, long papal robes with upside crosses adorning them, and even a mitre (what most people call a “pope hat”) with the band’s logo emblazoned on it.

Ghost played for about an hour and a half, but that time went by pretty quick since they are so entertaining. They played eight songs off their newest album, Meliora (see the entire set list here). The songs have kitschy but fun openly satanic lyrics for the most part, and the entire audience sang along for most of the entire show. The music itself isn’t anything revolutionary, it’s fairly simple and straightforward but they do have some cool riffs in there and Ghost is really catchy overall.

The performance can best be described as broken up into two halves, the first half had five songs from the first album Ghost album, Opus Eponymous, and was the typical unholy church mass you might expect. For some reason they started the show off with the song “Spirit,” the rather lackluster first track off of Meliora. An odd choice since just two songs later they played “Ritual,” a song which has one of the best openings to get a crowd into a show that a band could hope for. Even the second song they played, “From The Pinnacle To The Pit,” would have been a better opener. There was also a short drum solo in the first half of the set, which was ok I guess but to a metal head that has seen some absolutely incredible live drum solos over the years it wasn’t anything that wowed me. If you have seen Ghost prior to this tour then you probably knew what you were getting for the first half of the show.

The second half of the show was a bit different than the first, and caused some controversy among the band’s older fans. There were still plenty of songs from Meliora in this part of the set, but no more tunes from the debut were played. Several from the second album, Infestissumam, were performed in the second half of the show though. The really defining thing that separated the first and second halves of the show was when Papa Emeritus III changed costume. He ditched the robes and mitre and came out in a much more form fitting jacket that looked like something a naval commander in the days of wooden ships might wear. I can understand the idea of trying to update and evolve the character of Papa Emeritus to keep it from getting stale, but I think the execution here was a miss. An evil twist on a more traditionally religious costume might have gone over better and kept with the unholy church theme. Papa’s voice also seemed to have more trouble in the second half of the show, he missed a few notes here and there, though he tended to recover quite well. There was a cool section that featured two songs being played acoustically. I rather enjoyed this as I had to miss their recent acoustic performance at the Sound Garden in Baltimore. At one point the Nameless Ghoul on keyboard duty stepped into the spotlight for a brief keytar solo, which was a bit ridiculous yet seemed to fit right in with the campy Ghost performance. There was an encore which featured several songs, including “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen,” a highlight of the show, and even “If You Have Ghosts” a track off their covers album. The 19th and final song of the set was “Monstrance Clock,” a catchy song that had the entire audience singing along to the chorus.

In all the show was a lot of fun. The first half was a more traditional Ghost show while the second half was a more modern take, even if didn’t quite hit the mark at times. Still, it’s good to see the band trying new things to stay fresh and relevant in a time where music fans have such short attention spans. Ghost is still a great band to get the uninitiated into metal concerts because they’re just so much fun live and that’s something both new and old metal fans can agree on.

The following photos were all shot by Metal Nick at the show, the first of hopefully many collaborations between Metal Nick and Metal Chris!

Purson:

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Purson at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost:

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Ghost ticket give away

Ghost at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Papa Emeritus and his band of Nameless Ghouls will be playing at the Fillmore Silver Spring on Tuesday, September 22nd as Ghost returns to the DC area. This week we’re giving away a pair of tickets to this show to get you as excited about this show as we are! To enter: leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite Ghost song is. If you need help you can find their discography listed here. At 5pm EST this Friday, September 4th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to receive two tickets to the show! Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win, or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from right now for $33 from Live Nation here.

The anonymous Swedes of Ghost have their true identities shrouded in mystery but one thing is for sure, they know how to put on a killer live show. From their costumes, stage backdrops and lighting to their super catchy riffs and chorus lines Ghost is quite the musical spectacle to behold. They’ll also be playing with Purson, a psychedelic band from London, who should be great at setting the stage for Ghost. Now check out these killer tunes by Ghost and Purson and tell me what your favorite Ghost song is in the comments!

Ghost – Cirice

Ghost – Year Zero

Purson – The Contract

Live photos of Behemoth and Cannibal Corpse

The Behemoth and Cannibal Corpse dual-headlining tour stopped at the Fillmore Silver Spring on Monday, March 2nd, 2015, and it was a great show! Death metal fans were treated to two titans of the genre and the bands didn’t disappoint. This was the first time I have seen Behemoth since the band’s main man, Nergal, recovered from cancer. I have to say the Polish band’s stage show has really improved since the days they used to open for other bands all the time at Jaxx! Behemoth played a lot off the new album, The Satanist, but old fans were treated to some older classics like “Chant for ΕΣΧΗΑΤΟΝ 2000” as well. Cannibal Corpse put on a brutal show as always. While I don’t think they were bad I still think they’re a better show in smaller venues where the band is closer to the audience and the place is a packed, sweaty mosh pit from stage to exit. Still, they’re always tight and it was cool that they mixed things up by closing their set with “Devoured By Vermin.” The lighting for Cannibal Corpse wasn’t the best for shooting but I did get a few shots, Behemoth was much brighter and had a lot of stage props as well (including Nergal’s mic stand that he must have purchased from Cobra Commander’s yard sale). Unfortunately I didn’t get there in time to catch openers Tribulation and Aeon, the latter of which I really wanted to see, but early start times aren’t the best for week nights in this town with the crazy traffic we get. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the photos I shot below of Behemoth and Cannibal Corpse.

Cannibal Corpse:

Cannibal Corpse at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Paul Mazurkiewicz of Cannibal Corpse at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Behemoth:

Nergal of Behemoth at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Nergal of Behemoth at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Behemoth at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Nergal of Behemoth at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Behemoth at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Nergal of Behemoth at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Review of King Diamond at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Monday, October 13th of 2014 saw the long awaited return of King Diamond to our area at the Fillmore Silver Spring. Based in Denmark, King Diamond hasn’t played in our area in about a decade and the last time I saw King Diamond live was back in 2003 at Jaxx (now Empire). There was just one opener for this show, Jess And The Ancient Ones, which I had checked out online previously and didn’t really enjoy much. I didn’t complain when I got there just as they were finishing up their set. The band is from Finland and sound like a gothy version of Jefferson Airplane to me. Despite the band sharing a member with the kvlt tech death band Demilich, I don’t think you could classify Jess And The Ancient Ones as metal by any stretch of the imagination. When they finished a curtain went up to obscure the stage as King Diamond’s crew got to work.

It was a long break before the curtain dropped, and people were getting excited for the show. It finally did come down and the first keyboard notes of “The Candle” filled the venue as the show began. And what a performance it was! Even if you aren’t a huge King Diamond fan, the sheer spectacle of the show was something you couldn’t keep your eyes off of. The stage, the most elaborate I have ever seen in a club setting, had a second tier behind the drum kit with stairs on either side, with large upside down crosses at the tops of each stair case that would light up. The center backdrop changed a few times from a large pentagram with a goat head to a photo of King Diamond. And for the first four songs the front of the stage had a large iron fence, I suppose meant to look like something you’d see around an old cemetery, which the band played behind. Unfortunately for those of us lucky enough to get a photo pass, that meant shooting through the fence the entire time since photo passes only allow you to shoot for the first three songs (this is an industry standard, not just a King Diamond thing). It was a unique challenge to say the least. The issues with the fence aside, this was one of those nights you really wished you could shoot the band’s entire set because so much was going on. There were characters that would come out on stage (including Grandma from the “Them” and Conspiracy albums, and Miriam Natias from Abigail), a side show style magic trick and the whole performance seemed larger than life.

When I had seen King Diamond before it was on the Puppet Master tour and while the stage then was nowhere near as elaborate at Jaxx, the performance was just as theatrical. That show at Jaxx was a bit more cohesive, it almost felt like you were watching some macabre heavy metal musical since the performance had a start, middle and ending (then followed by three encores with various classics). In contrast, the show at the Fillmore was more of a “best hits” style set list, and while Grandma made a few appearances, it wasn’t really a retelling of the albums she was on so the performance didn’t quite flow the same way. That wasn’t a major problem though and I’m betting half the audience hadn’t seen King Diamond before anyways. The band also played a couple songs from Kind Diamond’s original band, Mercyful Fate. This seemed to be the highlight of the show for a lot of people, and the crowd went wild for the back to back performances of “Evil” and “Come To The Sabbath.”

When King Diamond is on stage all attention is focused on him, he’s just a natural performer that way. The rest of the band stayed mostly in the background, though they did pump fists and look excited to help keep the crowd’s energy up. There was also a woman off to the side doing back up vocals, but she was pretty much out of most people’s view the entire night. At first I thought she might be helping King hit those high notes he is so well known for, but after watching when she would sing I was certain she was not. I really didn’t know what to expect of King Diamond’s voice going in, the guy is 58 years old, but with this being just the second night of the tour (and he had the previous night off) his voice held up incredibly well.

Despite the very crowded room (and I didn’t even bother going upstairs cause I know how obscured the views are up there) everyone seemed to love it. When the band returned to the stage for the first of two encores they pulled a stunt from the Alice Cooper bag of tricks. While the band played the instrumental song “Cremation” King stuffed his wicked Grandma into some sort of cremation machine that had been brought out on stage. This became a magic trick making it appear as though she had been burned alive by removing the walls on the cremation machine to reveal a smoldering skeleton that resembled Luke Skywalker’s late foster parents in Star Wars. After another encore break the band was introduced and they played a couple more songs, ending with the fan favorite “Black Horsemen.”

The show was entertaining on every level and I think even uninterested significant others that got drug along to this would have found it fun to watch. From the set to the theatrics and characters to the band being on point, this was a performance big enough to fit on a major outdoor pavilion but stuffed into a club setting and it was a masterful performance by King Diamond, one of the true legends of heavy metal.

King Diamond at the Fillmore Silver Spring

King Diamond at the Fillmore Silver Spring

King Diamond at the Fillmore Silver Spring

King Diamond at the Fillmore Silver Spring

King Diamond at the Fillmore Silver Spring

King Diamond at the Fillmore Silver Spring

King Diamond at the Fillmore Silver Spring

King Diamond ticket give away

King Diamond at the Fillmore Silver Spring

The Danish king of metal, King Diamond, finally returns to tour the US with his eponymous solo band and they’ll be playing the Fillmore Silver Spring this Monday, October 13th! It’s not every day one of the European legends of metal comes to town so we’re giving away a pair of tickets to one of you lucky DCHM readers. To enter leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite King Diamond or Mercyful Fate song is (if you need help you can see their discographies at these links: KD and MF). At 5pm EST this Friday, October 10th, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to receive two tickets to the show! Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. Please don’t enter if you know you can’t attend, the contest ends just a few days before the show so I don’t have a lot of time to keep picking winners and waiting to hear back. If you can’t wait to see if you win, or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets right now for $43 from Live Nation here.

Aside from his incredible vocal range, King Diamond is also known for elaborate stage designs and theatrical live performances making this is a show you don’t want to miss! This will only be the second show of the tour so his voice should be in great form, and you can bet he’ll be playing a few classics from his previous band, Mercyful Fate, as well. And let’s not forget Andy LaRocque will be there shredding on lead guitar. The opener for this show is Jess And The Ancient Ones, a new band from Finland that sounds more like they’re from San Francisco in the 60’s. Perhaps this is what a gothy version of Jefferson Airplane would sound like. They’re not really “metal” per se, but they do have an evil vibe going on and they should be an interesting opener. Now check out these awesome videos of the bands below while you tell me what you favorite King Diamond or Mercyful Fate song is in the comments!

King Diamond – Sleepless Nights

King Diamond – Welcome Home

Jess And The Ancient Ones – Astral Sabbat

Fillmageddon ticket give away

Fillmageddon at the Fillmore Silver Spring

On Saturday, October 11th two of the fall’s biggest metal tours cross paths for one night only at the Fillmore Silver Spring for a show so big it can only be called Fillmageddon! Machine Head, Children Of Bodom, Epica and Battlecross are on tour together but The Black Dahlia Murder and Suicide Silence tour was looking to play the area on the same day so rather than have competing shows they’re all playing at the Fillmore! We’re so excited around here for this show that we’re going to give one of you lucky readers of this site a free pair of tickets to this epic show. To enter: leave a comment on this post telling me which band you want to see the most. At 5pm EST this Friday, August 22nd, a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to receive two tickets to the show! Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win, or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from right now for $29.99 from Live Nation here.

Robb Flynn’s Machine Head will be headlining Fillmageddon as they tour to support their upcoming new album Bloodstone & Diamonds. Finland’s neo-classical melodic death metal band Children Of Bodom always brings the shredding riffs and solos and this show will be no exception. The Black Dahlia Murder is still touring to support their excellent release last year, Everblack. Suicide Silence is still going strong with Eddie Hermida (formerly of All Shall Perish) taking over vocals after the death of Mitch Lucker in 2012. Simone Simmons has a beautiful voice that you can’t ignore when Epica is playing and openers Battlecross will get the pits started early with their thrashy melo death riffs and mega fun live show. That’s one hell of a line up! Now check out these killer tunes by the bands and tell me in the comments which band you want to see the most!

Machine Head – Locust

Children Of Bodom – Trashed, Lost & Strungout

The Black Dahlia Murder – Goat Of Departure

Suicide Silence – You Can’t Stop Me

Epica – Storm The Sorrow

Battlecross – Never Coming Back