Monthly Archives: February 2016

Lamb of God/Anthrax/Deafheaven @ Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles 02/12/16

Metal fans will want to smack me, but I walked into this gig as a curious novice more than anything. I was a fan of drummers Charlie Benante and Chris Adler, not necessarily of their bands, Anthrax or Lamb of God. But the value in this tour package was unbeatable: 4 groups for $50 after fees. WOW. Power Trip and Deafheaven would open and I had zero familiarity with either band, so this particular concert offered a LOT of new music for me to experience. First and foremost, it was a chance to see thrash legends (and survivors) Anthrax for the first time. It was also a chance to see Lamb of God, one of the most important flag bearers of the new wave of American heavy metal. The trip itself was an adventure, no thanks to bing maps. Security was impressively tight, with the ladies being asked to empty the contents of their purses (a surprising amount of ladies I might add). Even the guys had their wallets finely inspected. The staff were so thorough, one robust latina said “aye, I felt like I just got to second base!” I’m surprised they didn’t check the guys for hernias. Power Trip had wrapped up their set by the time I walked into the Palladium. The show was a sell-out, 4,000 metal-heads packed into this hall, even the balcony looked like it was busting at the seams.

Deafheaven took the stage and I had no idea what to expect. What erupted from the stage was a shocking mash-up of black metal and…The Cure??? Or maybe Tristeza. It sounded like black metal…the relentless blast beats and hellish, shrieking vocals were there. But this group of Californian short-hairs didn’t look like your typical black metallers (no sleek long black hair or corpse makeup) and what really set them apart were the frequent breakdowns and transitions into these delicate, dreamy instrumental passages that reminded me of shoe-gaze or brit pop music. It was atmospheric, reverb drenched, and dare I say lovely. Lots of eighth notes with echo and spacey sounding voicings. Those tender moments were obliterated when the songs picked up momentum again and vocalist George Clarke opened his mouth. I prefer clean vocals, but I have to give credit to Clarke for the way he shrieked without disruption, making the voice serve as an additional instrument, adding more dark coloring to Deafheaven’s palette of sound. I stood there, confused and intrigued at the same time. There were definitely some Deafheaven followers in the crowd. There was the obligatory “You guys suck!” but I think the majority of the audience was just trying to figure them out. The group performed “Brought to the Water,” “Luna,” “Come Back” and “Dream House.” The coolest moment of the set occurred during their final number. Randy Blythe, vocalist for Lamb of God, joined George Clarke for a duet on “Dream House.” To people unfamiliar with that type of ‘singing,’it may simply sound like two men screaming and growling over ambient (or wussy, depending on your taste) music. The duet was actually pretty cool. Clarke’s ghostly shrieking combined with Blythe’s fry-screaming complimented each other shockingly well. Clarke’s screams were nasally, higher in pitch and timbre. Blythe’s baritone growls were a great contrast to Clarke’s style. To a newbie it may have sounded like guttural noises but there was still a musical statement in that vocal chaos. This isn’t screaming in the basic and literal senses, there’s a technique to this kind of extreme singing, not coming from the throat or the lungs, but elsewhere, like the nasal cavity and chest. Not loving this stuff but I’ve got a newfound respect for it.

Next up was the first headliner, Anthrax, from Queens, New York. Anthrax are survivors as well as barrier breakers. They’ve weathered changing musical climates, tragedy, personnel changes and still continue to make challenging, powerful music. Four of the five members of the classic lineup remain. Their 2011 album Worship Music was considered a triumphant return to form and fans are eagerly awaiting the new 2016 album. They were one of first metal/hard rock groups to embrace hip-hop (I’m The Man, Bring Tha Noize). As one of the “Big 4,” Anthrax is arguably the most unique of the bunch, in that their music includes two key ingredients lacking in the music of Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer: Humor and melodic, acrobatic singing. They’re metal jokesters and they’ve got a singer that can soar like an eagle. Anthrax came onstage to a rousing cheer. They didn’t mess around. The group wasted no time and launched into their set, giving the crowd a pounding dose of frantic, thrash classics like “Fight ’em Till You Can’t,” “Caught in a Mosh,” “Got the Time,” and the riveting anti-greed anthem: “Antisocial.” Scott Ian strummed the intro on his Jackson Flying V, and by instinct, much of the crowd sang along: “ohh-ohhhh, ohh-ohhhh…woah-ohhhhh, woah-ohhhhhhhh.” Singer, Joey Belladonna grinned from ear to ear and said “we’ve got a lot of old-schoolers that know this sooooong!” Frank Bello and Charlie Benante began playing along and sped up the tempo, adding some thunderous low end, while Scott Ian and Jon Donais cranked out the intro on their guitars. We continued singing and Belladonna gave the signal to give it more nut, and we followed suit, the crowd singing louder and louder, building a crescendo. Anthrax’s set lasted a bit over and hour. They played 8 selections in all, rounding out the set with newer material such as “Evil Twin,” “In the End,” “Breathing Lightning,” and finally closing with the timeless “Indians.” “Indians” is something else. It’s a war-dance inducing, fist raising anthem about the wrongs experienced by our Native American brethren. The group were able to channel their inner ‘Indian brave’ with this song, Charlie pounding out a rhythm on the toms that sound like tribal war drums. It’s one of the more serious Anthrax songs: “On reservations, a hopeless situation. Respect is something that you earn, our Indian brothers getting burned. Original American, turned into second class citizen.” Joey Belladonna is half Iriquois Nation, and he looks like a native warrior up there on stage, slender frame, long wild black hair and that fierce gaze. He can also sing with an equal amount of fierceness and agility. Vocally, if Ronnie James Dio and Steve Perry had a kid, he would sound like Belladonna. That’s right. Steve Perry. Even Eddie Trunk once told Scott Ian that they have a Steve Perry in their band. Belladonna’s melodic singing voice has been preserved relatively well and there are stand out performances on the Worship Music album. Their set came to an end and the crowd went berserk. Anthrax probably could have headlined this bill.

Finally came main headliners Lamb of God. The crowd roared for their metal heroes as they blasted their way into “Desolation.” The group employed greater production than the previous bands, complete with video screens and a bitchin lazer show. LOG’s style of music is highly technical, aggressive, yet it grooves. It’s challenging, head scratching music – as a drummer I still can’t wrap my head around most of those parts. There are abrupt time signature changes and crazy triplets on the feet, however the tempo of the music is not particularly fast. It has more in common with groove metal but with greater playing ability. That kind of technical prowess gives the music a more machine like sound, with the guitar parts supporting the drums and vice versa. There are a lot of heavy, staccato riffs which compliment the snare and double bass drumming. It’s like a wall of aggression, controlled aggression, while still laying down a muscly groove that you can bob your head to. The pummeling continued with more molten slabs of metal like “512,” “Walk With Me in Hell,” “Still Echoes” and “Ruin.” The major change up in the set occurred when “Overlord” was performed, the only selection to feature traditional, clean vocals. It was still no less brutal and powerful. LOG powered through the remainder of their set, performing 12 songs before the encore break. By that time several pits had erupted. The fans were rabid. There was also a moving tribute included during “Something To Die For,” the group honored the men and women in the armed forces during that song. “Vigil,” “Laid to Rest,” “Redneck” and a cover of “Unite Forces” completed the set. During the last number, Scott Ian, Charlie Benante and the guys from Power Trip joined LOG onstage. Bone crushing ensemble. The only way to describe this show was enjoyably exhausting. It takes stamina to perform that kind of material and to withstand it as an audience member. There was an awesome amount of diversity to this bill and I feel so fortunate that I was able to experience it. My Hearos hi-fi ear plugs were a life saver. There was no way I could get through a 4hour+ show in a smaller venue and not experience hearing loss for the next few days. By the way, those particular ear plugs are designed to allow some of the high end to filter through, so you can still enjoy much of the high frequency parts. Great product.



Mana Announces 2016 ‘Latino Power Tour’ Dates

It’s official. They’re coming back for more.

Ticket News Source

Mana is hitting the road in North America in 2016 and kicking it all off on September 9th in San Diego, CA.

Maná are a Mexican rock band from Guadalajara. The group’s current line-up consists of vocalist/guitarist Fher Olvera, drummerAlex González, guitarist Sergio Vallín, and bassist Juan Calleros. Maná has earned four Grammy Awards and seven Latin Grammy Awards.

2016 Mana Tour Dates

Sept. 9 – San Diego, Calif., Viejas Arena
Sept. 10 – Phoenix, Ariz., Talking Stick Resort Arena
Sept. 14 – Denver, Colo., Pepsi Center
Sept. 16 – Las Vegas, Nev., MGM Grand Garden Arena
Sept. 17 – San Jose, Calif., SAP Center At San Jose
Sept. 20 – Fresno, Calif., Save Mart Center
Sept. 24 – Inglewood, Calif., Forum
Sept. 25 – Inglewood, Calif., Forum
Sept. 28 – El Paso, Texas, UTEP Don Haskins Center
Sept. 30 – Laredo, Texas, Laredo Energy Arena
Oct. 1 – Houston, Texas, Toyota Center
Oct. 2 – Dallas, Texas, American…

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Trivium @ Fulton 55, Fresno CA 02/02/16

Weeknight shows are tough to attend and I had missed out on seeing trivium the last occasion they were in the Valley, a Modesto gig with Volbeat. Attending this particular show was a no brainer: local and super inexpensive, with early bird tickets costing around 10 bucks and full price coming out to 19 after fees, leaving more cash for shirts and drinks. Local FM station 105.1 The Blaze was promoting this show and provided an onstage intro. Trivium to me, are equal parts Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Opeth – power metal with seasonings of thrash and Swedish black metal…sophisticated black metal, teetering on Progressive Metal. You can hear the aggressive, guttural characteristics mixed with the epic, sweeping qualities, with a strong playing ability. There are growls, screams, and actual singing. Personally, I prefer the songs with clean vocals, Matt Heafy has a great singing voice. Add a triumphant hook and you can’t help but raise your fists and sing along. I was hoping to get a semi-decent position at this gig, unfortunately the venue was mostly full by the time I arrived. Fulton’s a flat room and the stage isn’t elevated all that high, there was going to be a lot of neck straining. After the opener’s set, I managed to squeeze my way up to the 5th or 6th row. Just my luck, I was stuck behind a guy that smelled like a meth head, that sour odor that’s a cross between ammonia, burnt plastic… and cat urine. There was no way I was going to enjoy that show, so I resigned myself to the very back of the venue. There I enjoyed the occasional fresh breeze from the main entrance doors opening and closing. The show kicked off with Iron Maiden’s “Run To the Hills” on tape. And of course, a rousing sing-along ensued. We added a lot of nut to the operatic “ruuun foorrrrr youuurrrr liiiii-iii-iiiiives!” part.

Trivium’s set was blistering. It was an aggressive set they put on, with lots of chunk. The redeeming factor to moving to the back of the venue was the sound mix. The sound was unique at the rear of the venue. The rhythm section stood out, with Paul’s drums coming in with a thunderous amount of punch and clarity. Every nuance and ghost note could be heard. The micing as well as the room made for a unique sound, making everything about the drum mix excellent, the kicks, snare and hats especially. That double thumping backbeat got us going, and the snare sound was sick, nice and tight but natural sounding. Mic’d snares can sound so dead at times, the drummer may as well be pounding away on a cardboard box or a bucket. On the contrary, I could hear Paul’s snare in all its glory. But if there was one piece of gear that I coveted it was the hi-hats. Damn, they sounded so crisp and had an almost trashy quality to them. Paolo’s bass rumbled with the same clarity and power. Those bass lines practically galloped, reminding me of the way Steve Harris plays for Iron Maiden. With all this glorious low-end, consequentially, Matt and Corey’s guitars and vocals were semi-burried by the bass and drums but it didn’t take away from the performance. Matt and Corey played their tails off and executed their guitar parts with an impressive amount of dexterity, while trading off on the growls and screams on songs like “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr.” Their riffing and soloing was eye-opening, the sweep picking and harmonized parts especially. The guitarists in the group have this thing for playing technically impressive solos that end in compelling harmonized parts, like a cherry on top. Paolo provided the clean backgrounds, often singing in counter to Matt’s vocal lines as well as harmonies. I’ve read criticism about Paolo’s backgrounds and even Matt’s lead singing. While they’re not always executed perfectly like that on record, they’re still quite strong considering the guitar and bass work they’re doing while singing. High points for me were witnessing “Strife,” “Built To Fall,” “Into the Mouth of Hell We March,” and of course “Until the World Goes Cold.” Power and emotion, no other way to describe those songs live. I tend to like bands that possess a lot of technical ability. But MORE isn’t always a good thing. Technical ability and wankering can become boring, uninteresting and lacking in soul. Not Trivium. Their playing ability doesn’t stand in the way of well-crafted songs. This group has a knack for fusing chugging metal with guitar wizardry, as well as memorable and catchy hooks. Great recipe.

Heafy was super appreciative of the turn-out, noting that the show was a sell-out. He went on to say that Fresno has been a longtime supporter of Trivium and thanked the audience for their dedication and love. Fulton 55 was packed to the gills, making for a sweaty, humid environment inside, a crazy contrast to the 38 degree frosty weather outside. Despite the cramped conditions, a pit erupted during several selections. It amazes me how within a couple seconds, the audience parts and a human turbine erupts. Props to the petite chick who jumped in and took part in the mayhem. How she didn’t get thrown around like a rag-doll or punted onto the stage, I can’t be sure. These pits weren’t for the faint of heart. As physical and aggressive as the moshing was, no one got hurt, everyone seemed to support each other, for the most part. It’s a turn off when a pit isn’t a pit and just a collection of drunk douche bags with an excuse to get rowdy. Props and respect to the security staff, they were definitely on their game and ejected a couple people who had too much to drink. PD was called in midway through the show and made contact with some of the offenders. The security staff are very active and conscientious, they always ensure a safe concert experience at Fulton 55. Quality group with a very strong live show, perfect for an intimate club date where the band is practically in your face.

  1.  Silence in the Snow
  2. Into the Mouth of Hell We March
  3. Strife
  4. Rain
  5. Tread the Floods
  6. Built to Fall
  7. Like Light to the Flies
  8. Insurrection
  9. Dead and Gone
  10. Becoming the Dragon
  11. Down from the Sky
  12. Until the World Goes Cold
  13. Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
  14. In Waves