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09.20.2007: Alabama Thunderpussy, Hemlock, Full Blown Chaos and Obituary @ Peabody’s

Another weeknight metal show in Cleveland and the Cleveland faithful showed once again why people all over the national metal scene say Cleveland is dying. For a bill as strong as this, the turnout really should have been stronger – Thursday night or not. This bill had a bit of everything from many seemingly diverse genres that all tied together nicely through their sheer will, drive and power.

I arrived just as Hemlock was starting their set. Hemlock is a long-lived metal act from Las Vegas, Nevada. Admittedly, this was my first exposure to these guys and I can tell you that I’m looking forward to my next. Combining the thrash sensibility of Testament with the riffing of Pantera and the power metal flexibility of Pro-Pain, Hemlock brought an awful lot to the table – which they promptly unleashed upon those in attendance. The crowd was still smallish throughout their set but you certainly couldn’t tell by the way they played. Bantering with the crowd without sounding forced or contrived, Hemlock did a damn fine job of not only taking an unsuspecting crowd and making them care, but also of getting them into songs that most of them had never heard of. You have to respect a band that can get people who have never heard of them to sing along with them.

What better way to follow up some updated oldschool thrash metal than with good old-fashioned New York hardcore from legends like Full Blown Chaos? Showcasing some of the new material of their Ferret Records debut, Heavy Lies the Crown, Full Blown Chaos took Hemlock’s “Wall of Death” and converted it to a circle pit as Clevo’s hardcore faithful showed that strength is not always in numbers. Full Blown Chaos showed their appreciation of that sentiment by paying homage to Cleveland’s own Ringworm, who frontman Ray Mazzola cited as one of their “all-time favorite bands”. With a steady mix of the new material as well as some select cuts off of 2004’s Wake the Demons, Full Blown Chaos kept the brutality surging while keeping it all stripped-down, grungy, and straight off of the streets.

Alabama Thunderpussy then took to the stage and reminded everybody what metal is all about. The southern rock sound was a change of pace from FBC’s hardcore rage, but no one on the southern scene does it quite like ATP. Reaching back in the vaults all the way to 1999’s River City Revival while still showcasing the material off of their latest release, Open Fire, Alabama Thunderpussy reminded everybody in the house just what it is to be metal and doing it with their eyes set firmly on their own special mix of down-home sentimentality and heavy metal ass kicking, with the biggest receptions of the night reserved for their current single, “Words of a Dying Man” and their poignant shoutout to the troops, “Valor”. THIS is rock and roll. If you don’t know Alabama Thunderpussy, you need to. Check them out at www.atprva.com or http://www.myspace.com/atpva.

After some thrash metal, hardcore and badass southern metal, just about the only thing left to make this night of metal complete was some death metal – and that’s exactly what Obituary brought. At the forefront of the death metal movement since the 80s, Obituary continue to show that their hiatus during the 90s took nothing away from these guys and they stand poised to take back their rightful place atop the death metal scene with their new release, Xecutioner’s Return, which, referring to the band’s original name, is a call out to their faithful. They thundered their way onto the stage and took this show home.

At first glance, I must admit that the pairing of Alabama Thunderpussy and Obituary struck me as a bit odd. There’s certainly no denying ATP’s power, but would it really hold up when paired side by side with the death metal venom of Obituary? Thanks to everyone involved in putting together this tour for showing me, and everybody else in attendance, that it does.

-Late

07.27.2007: Old School Sinema’s Halloween in July @ The Pirate’s Cove

On Friday July 27 2007 Peabody’s Pirate’s Cove hosted a “Halloween In July” party hosted by Old School Sinema and if you missed out on going to this show you missed out on a lot of FUN FUN FUN. First of all, how could any B-movie lover turn down a Halloween party in July??? When I first showed up there was already about 20+ freaks all dressed up and ready to party. I could just tell it was gonna be a show to remember and not easily forgotten.

Old School Sinema set this shindig up and they were filming for a new under cover film they have up their sleeve. The bands that played were The Devilbillys from Wakeman, Ohio, The Pussyfoot Girls from lovely Cleveland, The Cap Gun Cowboys from San Francisco, California, The Slack Jawed Yokels from Granger Township, Ohio and the top billing went to The Cult of the Psychic Fetus from Eerie Shores of the City of the Dead.

The show cost $7 to get in and well worth every nickel and the turn out was well in the 100/150 range by the end of the night. The Devilbillys opened the show with a rockin’ psychobilly free for all. Stand up bass player n’ all. They were very well dressed men and this was my first time seeing these rockers and they won me over.

Next up were the super lovely Pussyfoot Girls. These go-go-go dancin’ girls put on one hell of a fun little show for us B-movie horny devils. They get up there and danced to old 50’s rock-a-billy-ish tunes, play with knives, sing fun sexy little “in-u-end-o” tunes and pretty much just turn us guys on the whole time. If you’ve never seen them yet, just wait cuz you will soon if you live in Cleveland – they do a lot of openings for a lot of cool bands coming through town. I couldn’t take my eyes off them;)

Then The Cap Gun Cowboys took the stage. I mean they TOOK the stage as if it was made for them. They played a very cool style of honkytonk rock-a-billy. They were very happy to be playing here in Cleveland and they won me over too, being this was the first time for me to see these guys too. I even had to buy the lead singer dude a beer after the set to pay my regards.

The Slack Jawed Yokels were next and just ripped their whole set. Rockin’ the stand up bass playing hardcore rock-a-billy mayhem. Very high-energy rock n’ roll. They were all into the Halloween in July vibe in full make-up. By the end of the 3rd song the make up was dripping from their faces with sweat dripping all over everyone in the first row. They couldn’t have made me happier.

Cult Of The Psychic Fetus ended the night with their groovy dark gothic rock-a-billy tunes and they had the place rockin as if an earthquake was in full force. I’ve been a fan of these rockers for a few years now and have seen them in almost every club in town. But this was my first time seeing them at Peabody’s Pirate’s Cove. It was a nice little “Treat” of the “Trick” of a show.

The whole show was filmed by the host of the night: Old School Sinema. They are filming a new undercover B-movie film. They had 3 cameras shooting and if you were there getting your groove on I’m sure they caught you grooving. A lot of freaks were dressed up as if it was really Halloween that night. It was a feel good vibe the whole night and I’m sure glad I went to the gig in Full ZOMBIE gear. It felt good dressing up and I hope this turns into July tradition for Old School Sinema because I think this show was a 100% hit.

I hope you enjoyed my little review and you can find ALL the bands up on MySpace. Just do a search and you’ll find them. Thanks for reading (If you know how to do that???)

07.20.2007: Symphony X, Sanctity, Echoes of Eternity @ Peabody’s

Once again, Peabody’s and the Pirate’s Cove were packed as Cleveland turned out in force to kick off another weekend of heavy metal and I have the sweat stains to prove it. With my apologies to the early openers in the Pirate’s Cove, here’s what the night held.

The Pirate’s Cove offered Alucard, a nice instrumental metal act that wrapped things up with a monstrous drum solo, The Dagger Rebellion, who whipped the side venue into a frenzy, and Gravity, who opened up with an impressive display of the progressive rock sound. Sadly, I wasn’t able to stick around for all of the bands in the Cove or catch the full sets from these guys because they were up against the likes of Echoes of Eternity and Sanctity who held court on the Peabody’s main stage. All three, though, get a shout out based on what I caught of their sets.

Echoes of Eternity threatened to steal the night early on. With a stunning mix of gothic beauty and grace and power metal strength and precision, they swept into the night on the wings of a valkyrie, taking the crowd by the collective hand and drawing the masses in. The murmurs of “there’s a band with a chick singing” were quickly replaced with shouts of “these guys rock” – and rock they did. They’re out now on tour with Symphony X and if the show hasn’t hit your town yet, definitely make a point of getting there early to see Echoes of Eternity. Otherwise, you should definitely pick up their Nuclear Blast release, The Forgotten Goddess.

Up next was Sanctity, who stormed the stage with a far heavier sound. They tempered a heavy power metal approach with thrashy guitar licks that called to mind the likes of Testament. They played a solid brand of thrash metal that somehow didn’t seem as out of place with the progressive power metal that dominated the night as it might have. Out now on Road Runner Records with Road to Bloodshed, these guys have something to offer to both the progressive metal fans and the thrashers among us.

This night, though, was all about Symphony X. Based on the response they got from the assembled masses in Cleveland, you’d never know that these guys had to go through Japan and Europe to get themselves some recognition back home in the States. Minor technical glitches in the intro aside, Symphony X took to the stage and gave everybody exactly what they were there for. With a solid mix of older material, as well as stuff off of the new album, Paradise Lost, Symphony X took the night by the horns – with plenty of horns up in the crowd as well. With their mix of straightforward rock power and progressive power metal flair, Symphony X can appeal to a listener on multiple levels and that’s exactly what they did on this night.

All told, it was a hot and sweaty night and every bit of that was worth it for this tour package. If they’re headed your way, get out and see them. If they already hit your town, kick yourself for missing it, go grab their discs and make a mental note to see them the next time through. Plenty of people here in Cleveland did and we wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

-Late

05.10.2007: Static X, Otep and InVitro @ House Of Blues

Nothing says “heavy metal party time” quite like a Thursday night at the House of Blues in Cleveland. Okay, maybe lots of things say that better than a Thursday night at the HoB in Cleveland, especially with a show that starts at around 7pm but that’s where we were at and Static X and Otep are worth it.

The early start meant that once I cleared Customs and actually got inside, InVitro was already well into their set. InVitro is a Los Angeles band that desperately wants to be a cross between Mr. Bungle and System of a Down. They fail miserably at both. To give credit where credit is due, they played a tight set that was full of energy. This is a band that stands as stark testament to the fact that a lot of energy in no way means a lot of talent. Their stage show came across as painfully contrived in a genre that is known for contrived stage shows.

Thank the gods for Otep, who dove right in and picked up the pieces with all of the energy and the mix of angst and rage that you’d expect from Otep. The material all translated well from the albums to the live set, which can be tricky with Otep’s often provocative and always emotive music. Some preaching on the evil of the Bush administration and a bizarre preoccupation which changing hats between each song continued the forced feel of the show a bit, but the fact that the theatrics served as a counterbalance to the often heavy and brooding music instead of a distraction from it, as InVitro’s antics were, made it work.

Static X rounded out the evening in grand style. With far and away the most fluid and natural set of the night, Static X grabbed the audience by the neck and dragged the throng through their entire catalog. With blistering energy and razor-sharp precision, Static X ruled the roost, getting fists and horns raised into the air and still managing to rein in the crowd whenever they wanted to – they had those in attendance eating out of the palm of their hands..

A lot of the theatrics of the night may have come across as forced at times, but the passion and the energy were all true blue. Static X and Otep stormed into Cleveland and left a blistered and quivering crowd in their wake.

-Late

04.13.2007: Sevendust, Red and Diecast @ House Of Blues Cleveland

Friday the 13 may be an unlucky day for most folks, but not for one of heavy alternative’s masterminds, Sevendust. Before Sevendust took to the stage, Red and Diecast would kick things off and energize the slightly packed crowd into a frenzy.

Diecast started their set with a brutalizing assault of screamo blazing through track after track getting a pit started amongst the audience. They packed a whopping punch in the mouth and attacked with aggression stomping a mud hole into Cleveland’s loyal headbangers. In honor of Sevendust’s lead vocalist LaShawn, Diecast performed a more macabre, yet somber and progressively lulling song with “Cold As Rain” which got the people whipping out their cigarette lighters and cellular phones. Diecast also did a wicked cover of Kenny Loggins’ classic from the “Top Gun” original motion picture soundtrack, “Danger Zone.” After a few loud shouts of “Cleveland rocks!” and some more shredding, Diecast finished out with a bang.

Next up were Red and they brought their brand of down home Southern metalcore. This group brought their best to Cleveland and never looked back. Red performed a ton of songs from their debut album, End of Silence, giving us a sample of what they have to offer. They gave us “Already Over” and “Let Go” before shamelessly promoting their website for the fans to check out and send e-mails. Afterwards, they showed us more with “Break Me Down”, getting the crowd to rock out and flinging their hands in the air clapping and pumping their fists. Red finished off their set with their hit single, “Breathe Into Me.” Cleveland’s faithful rock connoisseurs gave much love to the guys in Red and we know full well how discerning our fans are toward their rock and roll.

Sevendust finally graced the stage and The House of Blues was nearly shaking to its rafters as the people erupted in joyous copious amounts of screams, chants and tons of love. Although they had some technical problems making it difficult to hear the vocals, LaShawn, Morgan and the guys got things into gear and kicked some serious butt. They started out with a sullen intro full of keyboards and wicked guitar licks before slamming down the angst-ridden grooves that have made them synonymous with the early to mid-1990s heavy alternative movement. They encouraged the fans to get into a circle and mosh the living Hell out of each other as Sevendust continued the onslaught of songs. They reached back into the vaults and pulled out many of the hits that made them famous for more than 12 years such as “Denial” and “Praise” as everybody in attendance sang along. They also pulled out an old track with “Follow” bringing back some good memories for the Sevendust faithful. They had also brought out some new tracks from their most recent release, Alpha, and challenged the crowd to sing along as best they could to “Death Star.” They had announced that they were having their own personal contest to see which city could sing along with this song the best and this critic believed that Cleveland was in the top 10 for best in show. Sevendust performed more tracks from Alpha including “Clueless” and “Confessions of Hatred.” It was a non-stop furious ride of modern alternative and heavy hitting metallic destruction. Sevendust gave us a five star performance and had chosen a great supporting cast with Red and Diecast.

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