Black Label Society and Corrosion of Conformity Storm Stage AE Pittsburgh (w/ guest Red Fang)

Entering Pittsburgh’s Stage AE, “Zakk Wylde may be the last true Guitar God on this planet,” was overheard within the enthusiastic crowd.  Wylde may have made his fame from being Ozzy‘s on and off guitar player, but he has forged a loyal group of followers and fans with Black Label Society.  And why wouldn’t he?  The man consistently tours either with BLS, Ozzy, Zakk Sabbath, or solo.  He plays the guitar like it’s another appendage and he has the strut and attitude of the old regime of metal gods.  The fact that he is built like a brick shithouse and looks like sasquatch stole a biker’s outfit only adds to his persona which includes being one of the most serious guitar players to not take himself seriously.

Pittsburgh is lucky enough to be on BLS’s tour list for quite some time and their performance (Feb 6, 2018) proves why the crowd keeps coming back.  Opening with Genocide Junkies from 1919 Eternal, the band just kept ripping it up from there as they dove into Funeral Bell and Suffering Overdue.  Wylde continued to let his guitar do the speaking as John (JD) DeServio (bass), Jeff Fabb (drums), and Dario Lorina (guitar) pummeled their individual instruments with abandon.  Watching Zakk get up on his riser, skull and cross adorned mike stand and all, and whip his hair in a frenzy as he plays more notes than your fingers can air guitar to in mere seconds is a rush each and every time one might see him live.  The fact that he consistently has put together a very tight band to work with him adds to the appeal of BLS, for the members are a traveling family of sorts.

BLS are touring their latest release, Grimmest Hits. Grimmest Hits, the highly anticipated follow up to Billboard Top 5 charting titles Catacombs of the Black Vatican (2014) and Order of the Black (2010).  It reached #1 on the Billboard Hard Music, #1 Independent, and #2 Rock Charts. The LP was also the #1 selling album at Best Buy for the week of its release, beating out Grammy nominated, Fall Out Boy by a considerable margin.  Upon its release last in January, Grimmest Hits landed at #1 spot on iTunes Top Rock Albums Chart and #7 on the Overall Top Albums Chart. Full setlist here.

One of the favorite parts of any BLS show is the inevitable solo by Wylde as he plays behind his head and every which way in between passing through the crowd and even into the balcony.  Add to this BLS hits such as Suicide Messiah (inspired by Scott Weiland’s life), the Dimebag Darrel tribute In This River (with piano solo), as well as the classic Stillborn (that features Ozzy doing backing vocals on the record).  As always BLS brought the goods and distributed them freely and viciously, keeping us wanting more.

 

A special treat to the show was the edition of Corrosion of Conformity.  COC has been on a tear recently as they have reunited with Pepper Keenan on guitar and lead vocal.  Pepper has become a fave due to his role in Down with ex-Pantera frontman Phillip Anselmo.  But, before he graced that band, he became known in the COC crowd when he first joined the band as a guitarist and was asked to do the vocals on 1991’s Blind song “Vote With a Bullet” which started their first mainstream attention.

The true four among fans of COC are considered Pepper, Mike Dean (bass), Woody Weatherman (guitar), and Reed Mullin (drums).  Unfortunately, Reed was out for part of the tour (he stuck out the first month), including Pittsburgh, as he nurses a knee injury that required surgery (filling in has been John Green, Mullin’s drum tech).  Mostly intact and with a formidable stand-in drummer, COC absolutely destroyed Pittsburgh.  The combination of stoner metal-punk that was unleashed is comparable to repeatedly getting punched in the face and getting intoxicated from it instead of feeling pain.  Keenan’s vocals were perfectly steel reinforced with just enough of that signature Pepper gravel to make them stand out.  His guitar playing is diverse and masterful as well, with a touch thrash, country rock, and true NOLA sludge blended together.  Add to this Woody’s crunchy and perfectly timed rhythm guitar in the vein of Malcolm Young, as well as Mike Dean’s solid low end, and the conglomeration leaves one with a distinct sound that can carry many variables to keep it interesting and evolving.

COC’s set was tight and powerful, not relying on spectacle but prowess and panache.  Their new effort, No Cross No Crown, is no less punitive to the ears as it hearkens to a “Black Sabbath-esque” formula containing slowed down sludge scenery.  It was released January 12th via Nuclear Blast Entertainment, toppled Billboard charts upon its first week of release earning #67 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, #12 on the Billboard Top Current Albums Chart, and #3 on the Top Hard Music Albums Chart making it the highest charting album of the band’s career.  Captured in North Carolina with longtime producer John Custer, No Cross No Crown marks the first studio recording with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan in over a decade and has reaped critical accolades from fans and critics alike both stateside and abroad.  Please check out our interview with Mike Dean on YouTube.

If you missed it, check out the band’s recently-released new video for “The Luddite” HERE as well as their animated clip for “Wolf Named Crow” HERE.  No Cross No Crown is available on CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats. Various order bundles are available at nuclearblast.com/coc-nocrossnocrown.

Portland rockers Red Fang opened the evening touring with their latest, Only Ghosts, out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records (Physical packages and digital orders are available via Relapse.com HEREand Bandcamp HERE).  Red Fang has been around since @2005.  Often put under the moniker stoner rock, the band has become a staple go-to for band fans like Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan.  Interestingly enough the band has announced a special wine collaboration with Teutonic Wine Company, a small urban winery in their hometown that makes wines in the style of the Middle Mosel Valley in Germany and France’s Alsace region. The wine, aptly called “Red Fang Red” is a blend of varieties that have never been done before: Pinot Noir, Tannat and Gewürztraminer.  To celebrate, Teutonic and the band teamed up for a wine release party like no other on January 13th at the Teutonic headquarters in Portland. Attendees got get to enjoy a DJ set from drummer John Sherman, a wine tasting with the band, munch on house-made corn dogs and much more.  By all means, Red Fang is a must-see for any KYUSS-style loving rocker.

The Accidentals @MrSmalls Theatre Pittsburgh

As part of their 2018 tour, The Accidentals will be performing with Keller Williams at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale on January 13th in celebration of their new record ‘Odyssey’.

NPR says the group carries “poetic ambiguity” and “idealistic undertones” through evocative lyrics, but to really get a feel of their energy check out their Yellow Couch Session here.

biography

With ODYSSEY, their extraordinary Sony Masterworks debut album, The Accidentals affirm their place among contemporary music’s most original and adventurous new bands. Multi-instrumentalists Sav Buist and Katie Larson – joined on stage and in the studio by drummer Michael Dause – have crafted a genre all their own, fueled by their uniquely limitless approach to musicality and songcraft. As its title suggests, ODYSSEY is built upon the foundation of real life experience through adversity and finding strength in vulnerability, their five-year journey having brought them to this cusp moment. Lyrically powerful songs like “Earthbound” and the potent title track see the band embracing their choice to lead an unconventional life with all its many surprising twists and turns.

Named among Yahoo Music’s “Top 10 Bands to Watch in 2017,” The Accidentals’ adventure began in their hometown of Traverse City, MI, when Larson, a sophomore cellist, and Buist, a junior violinist, were paired for a high school orchestra event. The gifted young musicians became fast friends and before long, bandmates. Having both grown up in musical families with professional pianists for fathers and vocalists for mothers, their shared influences bounced between classical, jazz, bluegrass, country, alt-rock, and the obscure.

Dubbing themselves after the musical notes that fall outside of a key signature, The Accidentals recorded and released a pair of independent albums in 2012 and 2013, the latter funded by a hugely successful Kickstarter. Their original songs revealed a band with wide-ranging influences but always true to their orchestral roots. National applause and attention followed, as did acclaimed collaborations with some fellow local artists and independent filmmakers. Other career highlights included scoring arrangements for a 75-piece orchestra to accompany them on their original songs as well as arranging pieces for an opera/dance production with Jennifer and Ryan Lott (Son Lux).

The past five years have seen The Accidentals perform over a thousand live shows, including headline dates, festival sets, and shared stages along such like-minded acts as Martin Sexton, Brandi Carlile, Andrew Bird, The Wailers, Joan Baez and others. 2015 saw the band embark on their first full-scale national tour, funded in part by an Indiegogo ‘online garage sale”. That year’s SXSW debut saw them hailed by Billboard for “displaying a genre-hopping range of influences and some smart songwriting skills to go with their abundant musical chops.”

Now, at long last, The Accidentals unveil their most compelling and finely honed work to date. Co-produced by Buist, Larson, and Dause with engineer Jason Lehning (Mat Kearney, Guster, George Jones, Alison Krauss) at Asheville, NC’s Echo Mountain Recording, ODYSSEY sees the band joined by such friends and fans as acoustic guitar maestra Kaki King, bassist – and fellow Michigander – Dominic John Davis (Jack White, Beck), Carbon Leaf guitarist Carter Gravatt, Keller Williams and The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee, who spent three days in the studio alongside the band, lending her distinctive organ to a number of the album’s key tracks.

“It was a really collaborative process,” says Larson. “A lot of these songs had been hashed out at our live shows over the past few years, so we had a very strong idea of what we wanted in the arrangements. Jason helped us get outside the box with recording techniques, putting a fresh spin on the songs.”

“I’m so glad we’ve been able to collaborate with musicians who are so receptive to working and playing together,” Buist says. “They added their own artistry to some of the older songs, and it gave them new life.”

The Accidentals’ inviting spirit of shared creativity is perhaps best represented by the album’s audacious first single, “KW,” showcasing the inimitable guitar work of Keller Williams, whose own virtuosic genre-agnostic approach towards music making inspired the song in the first place.

“We were really lucky to tour with Keller,” Buist says. “We got to know him pretty well. He’s an amazing, genuine human and musician. He’s constantly defying genres, crossing lines, and creating collaborative projects. I wanted to capture some of that spirit in a song, so I wrote ‘KW.’ Keller caught wind of it at a show and played the song live with us. Later we added strings to his album and he offered to lay down guitar tracks. The dream came true – we ended up with a song that has a lot of his style and energy. We love that guy.”

From the orchestrated rock of “Memorial Day” to the album-closing “Ballad Tendered Gun” – surprisingly, The Accidentals’ first instrumental to be included on an LP – ODYSSEY is a strikingly dynamic work, both layered and unhurried, bittersweet yet lifeaffirming. Rich with literary references, whispers of nostalgia, and an unstoppable sense of forward motion, its songs were written independently by Buist and Larson and then arranged and refined by the group, creating a perfect yin/yang between individual introspection and dynamic cooperation, each artist bringing her own unique perspective to the process.

“We rely on each other to create a balance,” Buist says. “I think that’s the key to this band. Our styles of songwriting and arrangement are very different, so when they come together, they create this variation that couldn’t happen any other way.”

Multi-talented guitarist/keyboardist Jake Allen will join The Accidentals on stage as a special guest, filling in some of the colors and textures of ODYSSEY in live performances. The goal as ever is to experiment and experience, exploring new ideas and approaches while always staying true to their roots. With ODYSSEY, The Accidentals have conjured a truly one of its kind sound and vision, booming with free-thinking musicality, wisdom, and an understanding that growth is a process, not something that happens overnight. The Accidentals are already moving forward on their amazing journey, rolling down the windows on an open road towards someplace that’s both true and transcendent.

“I don’t think there are really any limits in terms of genre or instrumentation,” Larson says. “We just really enjoy making music that connects.”

“For us, it’s about the experience and collaboration and trying to learn as much as we can,” Buist says. “We want to be able to walk into any room with confidence in our craft, but in the end, we’re total nerds that just enjoy learning new things. Every day is an opportunity.”

Queensrhyce Tonight Dec 7 @RexTheater

QUEENSRYCHE Release New Music Video for “Hellfire”

On ‘Condition Human’ Headlining Tour In North America

Seattle based heavy metal icons QUEENSRYCHE are nearing the end of their ‘Condition Human’ world tour, which has now brought them back to North America on Fall a headlining run. Continuing to build on the momentum of their latest studio album, the band has released a visceral new music video for their song “Hellfire”, which spotlights the Malaysian passenger flight crisis in 2014. Speaking about the influence and subject matter for the new video, vocalist Todd La Torre states,

“‘Hellfire’ is a depiction primarily based on the tragic events surrounding the Malaysian airline flight MH17. Despite the storyline’s foundation, the lyrical and visual narrative transcends into other pertinent, global subject matters. Civil unrest, guerrilla warfare, media propaganda, and social inequalities are just some examples of the multifaceted issues marbled throughout ‘Hellfire’. A poignant illustration of an unfortunate yet timeless reality.” 

Queensryche – “Hellfire” (Official Music Video)
QUEENSRYCHE Online
Website: www.queensrycheofficial.com
Facebookwww.facebook.com/queensrycheofficial
Twitterwww.twitter.com/queensryche
Instagram: www.instagram.com/queensrycheofficial
QUEENSRYCHE – ‘Condition Human’ North American Fall Tour

Tuesday, December 6th – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
Wednesday, December 7th – Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theatre
Thursday, December 8th – Chesterfield, MI @ Diesel Lounge
Saturday, December 10th – Sioux City, IA @ Anthem at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Sunday, December 11th – Peoria, IL @ Limelight
Tuesday, December 13th – Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
Wednesday, December 14th – Overland Park, KS @ Kanza Hall
Thursday, December 15th – Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
Friday, December 16th – West Wendover, NV @ Peppermill Hotel & Casino