As of this writing, the music world continues to be in a state of suspended animation as the Coronavirus outbreak – particularly in North America – dashes any hopes of returning to music venues anytime soon. We’ve bungled the pandemic so poorly here in the states that our moron President and many of his colleagues have been diagnosed with the disease due to failure to follow social distancing measures. Having fans in attendance is starting to seem like a thing of the past, so more and more artists will start turning to live-streamed performances.
Doro Pesch is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Warlock‘s Triumph And Agony album in a big way. Continue reading
The New England Metal & Hardcore Festival will be returning for its seventeenth edition on April 17, 18 and 19, 2015 at The Palladium in Worcester, MA. Band announcements and tickets will be on sale on December 8, 2014.
Compared with last year when I had already started January off with five shows in three weeks, 2014 started rather quiet. These days as Ghost Cult’s chief editor, I simply don’t get out as much as I used to. So you know I wouldn’t brave the (over-hyped) Polar Vortex conditions and hazardous roads for just any show, but I did for Chimaira. It has been well documented that a lot of other bands would have quit in the face of adversity ten times over after what these guys have been through. Still, what keeps me interested as a journalist and earns my respect as a fan is their dedication to take every negative and turn it into a positive, and in the most hostile way conceivable musically. So with a planned set list “Celebrating the Chaos” of their career, and on the strength of another tour supporting the excellent Crown of Phantoms (eOne) release, I was all in for this.
With my buddy and photog for the night Chris Small in tow, we got the the Palladium early in time to get in and mingle with some of our local metal brethren. Beers and Happy New Year’s greetings out of the way and we were ready to get hopping. Starting things off was Reflections, who played a pretty typical bunch of screamy death-core. I was immediately shocked by how bored to tears they looked on this, the first night of the tour. Their emotionless faces, except for the front man James Foster, put me off in a big way. I just couldn’t figure out why. They have enough potential musically for me to say I will give them another shot down the road. Second openers Fit For An Autopsy could not be more different in how they set it off from their first notes. I have seen these guys grow steadily more and more impressive over time and they are definitely coming into their own. Straddling the tech-death/traditional death metal horse with an occasionally fierce breakdown, it was hard not to be amped up for every second of their set. See this is what an opening band should do, be a cool warmup act, and provide a hint of what is to come the rest of the night.
Oceano is one of those bands for me, that it really depends on the day or the show how I feel about them. They have made some killer songs and there is no denying their ability to pump up a crowd and throw down in the death metal/deathcore style. You could also single out their fans in the house on this night by who looked like they were their to punch people, and not really there to watch the show. I’d feel bad about per-judging some of these pit ninjas, but for the most part, I was proven right by the end of their set when about 25% of the crowd left. On the plus side, Oceano is over that entire we’re quitting/we’re back phase and they are just out for blood right now. Front man Adam Warren was all over that tiny stage, imploring the crowd to get violent and trying to drum up their energy. Based on the crowd response during ‘Contagion’, that energy was high. Warren also had some compelling things to say about being a hungry band with a new record out, (Depths on Earache) that not a lot of people know about.
Iwrestledabearonce is in a good place in the penultimate spot in the line-up on this tour. They confound and anger the battle-vest wearing set with their wry sense of humour and mashing-up of sub genres. Seeing all of the day glow shirts, booty shorts, and tons of core kids, outside opinion doesn’t matter tonight as the band came out and crushed it. Playing a short (for them) set of their hits plus a few recent tracks from Late For Nothing (Century Media), the band made the odd choice of having some of their typical production value from their headline set. Strobe lights and amp covers/banners seem a little out of place on the tiny stage when no one else had them, but it is part of their schtick I guess. Courtney LaPlant has really risen to the challenge of coming into a popular band and replacing a popular singer and she has killed it on every level, ever since. Her stage persona makes for the perfect master of ceremonies, and she slays all the material in case you still had doubts. Closing with ‘Tatses Like Kevin Bacon’ is a reminder why this band made it in the first place. These guys are still growing I think it will be exciting to see where they take it next.
The front line gear was removed for a very simple set up as the remaining crowd filled in the front of the stage. I watched from a perch in the balcony, in relative safety, mindful of the the many brutal Chimaira mosh pits I have been tossed around in. The change over was quick as the fans were ready for the final music of the night to ring out. The band took the stage and immediately launched into ‘Cleansation’ and it was pure bedlam in the pit. The band was tight as usual, and as usual on the side of the pit was a group of Eli Werstler worshipers. Watching Eli shred and abuse his guitar is worth the price of admission alone, and he has absolutely carried the mantle of great guitar work in the band. Of course Mark Hunter is front and center in the midst of the chaos. He is always focused, connecting with the crowd and really seems to enjoy his job with an evil relish. The set list was carefully crafted showing the greatness of the bands history, as well as the recent albums too. Sean Z helps take the music to another level with his terrific backing vocals. People forget sometimes that Sean fronted his own, worthy band in Daath not too long ago.
Like a well-oiled machine the band cut through the set list of hits and deep cuts. Mark smiled and cracked jokes between songs, and then menaced and scowled appropriately to the material such as ‘Crown of Phantoms’, ‘Pure Hatred’, and ‘Power Trip’. Simple, Brutal, and tight describes the relentless performance, more akin to a boxing champion than a metal band. ‘The Dehumanizing Process’ for years was a great choice as a set opener, but here towards the end of the night it proves the strength and talent of the band. I finally shed my fear and ran down to the floor to Eli’s side of the stage, of course, to finish out the night. Not quite an encore, but more like an extended ending ‘Resurrection’ would have been a fine choice to end the set. However, the band stayed on stage to play the song that is their new video, ‘Wrapped In Violence’. Proving how strong their last album as with this bruising cut, and hearing everyone left in the venue screaming their lungs out, was killer. What a way to start what promises to be a great year of concerts.
Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
Photos: By CWS Photography
I had my apprehensions about seeing Protest The Hero. It’s true. Laugh all you like, but try being absolutely surrounded by prog nerds, and the only longhairs among them are the obviously going to Berklee. The rest also go to Berklee, but don’t look like it. Fine institution, I’ll rib them as I please. Trekking to the Palladium and back in the midst of a snowstorm was no picnic, so if you’re reading this and live in a place without snow and a much more efficient transit system, feel free to lord it over me.
Arriving just in time to catch The Kindred’s set, I couldn’t help but smell something amiss. Was it their front man attempting to be Tommy Rogers of Between The Buried And Me fame, or someone near me not rigorously applying deodorant out of consideration for their fellow showgoer? If you guessed the former, you’re correct, though it would be nothing short of erroneous to not mention that there were some ripe fellows in this lot come to spectate. Talented group of lads, yes, but originality was severely lacking. The inclusion of a song with a sort of call and response and the front man’s getting off the stage to “mosh” with the crowd was charming enough, but I wasn’t exactly won over, having heard many a prog band of their type in all my Palladium-going years.
And to stack on yet another dry slice of derivative sourdough was Affiance. In light of their having convinced themselves that they’re something worth noting in the post-2007 era of progressive metalcore, their singer did boast some pretty sweet range, so that much at least was nice to hear. Otherwise, it was a series of by-the-numbers riffs and breakdowns that make the sober man wish that he could conjure a 40 oz of something vile and intoxicating to dull the edge of having heard it all before. I may sound harsh, but you had to be there to see/hear it for yourself.
We were promised Architects, and they failed to come build as per the contract. We were promised The Contortionist as well, and they couldn’t make it due to being given a fierce snowjob by Mother Nature in return for being talented in the cold season. Hell, even the night’s honorees in Protest The Hero showed up just in time to load in their gear after Affiance finished, so that’s how close we were to being strung out and in need of more noodles.
Now is as good a time as ever to admit that I’ve not been keeping up with Protest The Hero since the phenomenal Fortress, chock full of melody, technicality, and even a breakdown here and there to get the blood moving. I was mentally unready for them to mentally fellate me with the j-rock leaning soar of ‘Mist’ and the techy yet tasty Star Trek themed ‘Clarity’ from their killer new album Volition (Razor And Tie). I fell asleep on this band for a while, but Rody’s live back cracking by a professional chiropractor in the crowd sure as hell woke me up. Oldies, but goodies ‘Sequoia Throne’ and ‘Bloodmeat’ from the aforementioned Fortress made appearances, but sadly no ‘Blindfolds Aside’, which was the song that turned people (myself included) on to them many aeons ago in the first place. All present even got treated to Rody attempting (and failing) freestyle rapping. Let’s hope these influences make themselves plain on Prote$t Tha Hero, Yo’s next studio effort.
Braving the snow and cold was worth it to rekindle my long lost and embrace love of some of prog metal’s , but can someone please tell the heavens to turn up the global thermostat? You’re not kvlt.
Words: Sean Pierre-Antoine
Over a decade after Chuck Schuldiner‘s untimely demise by cancer of the brain stem following a long and expensive medical battle, fans worldwide were certainly pleased to hear that past members of the highly influential group would be banding together to reactivate the long dead crew in select cities. The 2012 tour saw some enormous fiscal controversy, what with money being mismanaged, the scope of the tour being underestimated, and of course, the charity aspect making any and all profit almost non-existent to begin with. Not to mention the lack of Chuck Schuldiner himself, due to being inhumed, and the last-minute nature of adding Exhumed‘s Matt Harvey in place of Obscura‘s Stephen Kummerer. It was destined to fail from the beginning, and reviving Death was a huge mistake. Continue reading