Progressive metal has taken many different forms over the years. While Dream Theater was mixing 80’s thrash with King Crimson-esque arrangements, Tool was taking sludge metal and adding incredibly intricate rhythm patterns. Nowadays, prog metal isn’t as nuanced as it was in the 90’s, but that hasn’t stopped bands like Britain’s Tesseract from pushing the genre forward. Ten years and six vocalists later, Tesseract release their sophomore studio album, Altered State, a mix of polyrhythmic beats and ephemeral soundscapes that might not set the world on fire, but still demonstrates what the progressive metal genre has up its sleeve.
Altered State is the first full release with new vocalist Ashe O’Hara, who replaced the band’s fifth vocalist, Elliot Coleman, after the band’s previous release, the Perspective EP. O’Hara’s voice isn’t what many have come to expect from a metal band. In stark contrast to the growls of Tommy Giles Rogers of Between the Buried and Me or the psalmic hums of Tool’s Maynard James Keenan, O’Hara’s melodic resonance is more akin to Kyo of Japanese metal band Dir en Grey. It’s not a high wail or a baritone bellow, instead walking the line between ascendant and smooth. O’Hara’s vocal style also distinguishes itself from former Tesseract vocalist Daniel Tompkins (who sang on the first Tesseract studio album, One), where harsher and rougher vocals appeared alongside clean melodies. O’Hara’s voice is a fine specimen that cools the burn that many other prog metal vocalists have prided themselves on.
Altered State offers ten tracks divided into four groups, with each group representing a different stage of change the band has undergone since their beginning. Considering that Tesseract has gone through multiple vocalist changes since their inception in 2003, this theme of change is clearly something of significant value to the band. The theme is one rich with ideas, though Altered State doesn’t do as much with it as expected. A major factor in a successful prog metal outing involves extended demonstrations of musicianship and creativity, and while Tesseract definitely deliver on the former, the creative element starts to wane by the last third of the album. The less successful prog metal albums usually sound pretentious, suffering from a longevity that outstays its welcome by the end. While Tesseract don’t overdo it too much on Altered State, it can be pretty difficult to distinguish one song from another. There are a few solid hooks (such as the Of Mind track “Nocturne”) but Tesseract’s atmospheric resonance is what drives Altered State both into realms of the epic and the slightly over-lasting.
Tesseract’s mastery of atmosphere is especially apparent with some great musicianship that, while not of the highest caliber when compared to bands like Between the Buried and Me, make for some wonderful songs that demonstrate a strong skill with their respective instruments. A healthy mix of rhythm and melody contribute to some memorable prog metal songs as well. Tesseract have taken the route of Messhugah when it comes to rhythm, as they’ve adopted the “djent” rhythmic design coined by Messhugah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal. The djent trappings are especially alive in the Of Energy track “Singularity”, an intricate polyrhythmic composition that takes the Messhugah style and adds a clean, atmospheric polish. The moments of innovation may be brief, but make a lasting impression. The use of a saxophone solo by Chris Barretto during the Of Reality track “Calabi-Yau” is brilliantly reminiscent of a King Crimson jam, just heavier and even more epic. While it would’ve been better to see more of these crazy breaks from tradition, Tesseract have taken solid steps forward for both themselves and the modern prog metal field.
Tesseract’s second studio album may not reach the prog metal stratosphere, but Altered State’s defining element of atmosphere mixed with rhythm is something special for the genre. These UK brainiacs prove their reverence for their predecessors, but ambitiously mix their influences together into a prog metal brew well worth their fanbase. The riffs aren’t the focus here; it’s the vibes produced by the low-tone atmosphere that make Tesseract an exceptional progressive band, but by introducing that “djent” rhythm, it becomes something beyond anything they’ve made before. Tesseract don’t abandon the prog metal traditions of intricate arrangements, but Altered State still keeps those fundamentals close to heart. Tesseract have proven that they want to change the prog metal world, and while their second LP isn’t an earthshattering album, it still is a solid listen that is bound to earn them some serious cred here in the States.
Altered State is streaming in full on the Century Media YouTube Channel HERE.
TESSERACT has released a series of trailers as well. They can be viewed below.
The band’s first trailer release can be view here: http://youtu.be/RIysXnFSEdo
Their second trailer here: http://youtu.be/jxE0SZK5y3A
Their third trailer here:http://youtu.be/z-QmAdI7YDk
Their final trailer here http://youtu.be/7QDQWhusH88
You would be hard pressed to find anyone willing to argue that there would have been a Doors without keyboardist and true band leader Ray Manzarek. The true keeper of the Morrison flame since his death and the genius behind that certain sound The Doors unmistakably always had, Ray was the statesman from the very inception of the group. More than any the other surviving Doors, Manzarek was the cheerleader and historian who attempted to keep fiction from fact, even though he sometimes allowed his love for Jim to cloud what may have really happened, only endearing us to him more. His skills are to this day some of the best in the business and he will always be missed greatly by all. Thanks for everything Ray. Say, “Hello, I love you” to Jim and we will keep the flame going down here.
The Doors’ founding keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, died in Germany Monday after a long fight with cancer, his publicist said in a statement. He was 74. The artist had been diagnosed with bile duct cancer.
Drummer for The Doors John Densmore wrote: “There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison’s words. Ray, I felt totally in sync with you musically. It was like we were of one mind, holding down the foundation for Robby and Jim to float on top of. I will miss my musical brother.”
Guitaris for The Doors Robby Krieger posted the following statement: “Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison were the two most unusual people I have ever known. It didn’t take long to realize this about Jim. He was obviously a genius, and he worked hard at being different. Did a good job of it too. Ray on the other hand, was a late bloomer. I guess it took all of his [and our ] energies to keep Jim in line. The real Ray didn’t appear until after Jim was gone. He was constantly doing projects with different people, producing, playing with different poets. He always saw the good side of people, and that was his genius. He was the only guy at UCLA that saw something good about Jim. Everyone else thought of Jim as a phony or worse. He saw the genius of Jim’s words and the rest is history. Ray sure did influence my life, and I hope yours to. I’ll always be grateful to John for introducing me to Ray and Jim, and I’ll never forget them.”
Ghost B.C. seem to have risen from the ashes of all the so called “Satan” worshiping metal bands that have come before them only to phoenix above to huge sales and fandom. One may question how a band dressed as ghouls reminiscent of ancient monks with a leader mocking the Pope as a skeleton, complete with pointy mitre and all, have accomplished such feats. Maybe it was the star studded endorsements by the likes of James Hetfield and Phil Anselmo. Possibly it was the great opening spots on tours with the likes of In Flames and Mastodon. Or maybe its the anonymity of Papa Emeritus II and his Ghouls and their selective press that just leave us wanting more. But, beyond the brilliance of the gimmickry of it all, the music still has to hold weight; and the tunes hold tons.
Their newest effort, Infestissumam, is rife stock with the anti-religious anthems and ‘Satan worshiping’ calls just like their first CD (Opus Eponymous). But when one is at their show, arms raised and singing along to songs such as “Year Zero” (‘Hell Satan, Archangelo Hell Satan, Welcome year zero’), it could easily be misinterpreted that one has stumbled into a black coven ready to slay some goats and sacrifice some kids. But what really is going on (at least I think so) is some great tongue in cheek humor about the whole thing- religion, hell, heaven, Satan, metal, worship, fanaticism, God, mysticism, whatever. The performance is not unlike a Faustian play or a Poe recital. It’s macabre and ghastly, but by no means is it serious Satanism.
The musicianship of each of the nameless (but marked by a symbol) ghouls is very evident. Impossibly difficult to really pinpoint into a genre, the music is not quite metal, not quite synth-rock, not exactly the descriptions of Blue Oyster Cult/Mercyful Fate/Black Sabbath that they have been labeled by rock critics; these showman put on a production without having the budget of KISS, nor do they need it. It seemed like every person in the 750 plus sold out crowd at Mr. Smalls knew every word as they sang along, shouting “PAPA” at the top their lungs, as he shook hands, spoke in a fake Italian accent, and even curtailed some of his language due to some very, very young audience members brought to witness the spectacle by their parents.
The vast improvements with their costumes from the last time we witnessed these Swedish spectres stateside (Stage AE in Pittsburgh) is amazing and money well spent (and the prompting for Papa Emeritus to don the II in his moniker). While I really did miss the fake stained glass windows with church like atmosphere (though we did not quite need it in Pittsburgh since Mr. Smalls used to be a church!) and the burning of the incense in their routine from last time, the overall act was masterful and left much of us wanting for more. That is the key ingredient that Ghost B.C. has found that many performers miss; give us a little mystery, a little coquettish toying and we will clamor for more. Unfortunately for those that missed the performance, by the time you will have read this, Ghost B.C. will have given their last stateside performance at Rock on the Range in Columbus and then head out to Italy to start a European tour. Although they take their name from an apparition, this is a band that begs to be seen and heard, don’t miss them again, if you do, it may haunt you forever.
Highlights: “Year Zero”, “Secular Haze”, “Ritual”
All photos ©2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine
Incandescent vocals deliver a warm, southern rock blues style, enveloping raspy undertones. “Desperation Blues,” a monumental, smooth and funky grind leave a nice “blues metal” taste in my mouth, an allusion to thumb through my iTunes in search for a similar sound following a full listen of this new ten track monster of an album. Zed encourage the ominously (and ironically) fuzzy feel-good southern sounds of bands like Clutch, and somehow a nice flavor of the stinging, whiskey soaked guitar chords of Mastodon. Although lyrically sinister, tracks including “Please” are desperate, yet radiant in a sense. The attitude of the album in general is relative to struggle, and elicits the very sound of rising above difficulty…with a smile on your face.
At times, vocalist/guitarist Pete Sattari reveals a somber Days of the New style, transitioning into a smoky, Phil Anselmo Pantera panache, if you will. Nice chunky chord progressions and strong lyrics parallel the delivery of the solid blasts of Rich Harris behind the drums. Guitar harmonies performed throughout “Desperation Blues” from Satarri and Lopez are vaguely similar to that of the heavy and mammoth Kim Thayil of early Soundgarden.
Overall, “Desperation Blues” will be a perfect summer anthem for outdoor metal barbeques and beer, (if you’re that righteous of an entertainer, of course). As somewhat of a “Country” girl, this album, vocal tonality, structure, distortion, everything paint an uncanny picture of blasting real and old-school powerful rock with those perfectly timed breakdowns through the windows of my car, just feeling like a total badass. You become the sound and beguilement itself. This album will take you back to easy summer memories, or be the lucky soundtrack to creating novel ones at a new chapter in your life.
Pete Sattari- Guitar/Vox
Rich Harris – Drums
Greg Lopez – Guitar
Mark Aceves – Bass
OUT MAY 21
So, I’m talking to my buddy Jesus. No, not that Jesus. If I talked to that one I’d probably be bilking you for donations and pretending to heal people. Anyways, he’s on his way to the Korn show in Rostraver. Freakin’ Rostraver. Belle Vernon, PA. Like well out of Pittsburgh. Why would Korn open their tour and first state side appearance with Brian “Head” Welch back fully with the band at a two thousand seat hockey arena in the middle of east “kubutt”?
Maybe it was the idea to have a nice warm up for the tour, the fact that drummer Ray Luzier’s grew up a stones throw from the place and much of his family was in attendance, or Korn just did not have a clue where Drusky Entertainment was able to book them? It doesn’t matter, it actually turned out to be pretty spectacular for the fans.
The excitement was pretty palpable for fans and bands alike. The audience was lined up fairly early in the day, made up of a lot of more rural folk who were pretty pumped for the big event. But what was even more interesting was to go behind the venue to the buses and see Brian “Head” Welch’s band Love and Death and their nerves piling up. Head himself rolling around in dirt, literally, soiling up his brand spankin’ new white outfit and prepping it for the tour as a film crew captured much of the happenings. Jonathan Davis cooly going about some last minute sound check vocals. David Draiman of Device (and Distrurbed?) just returning from his workout at the local gym (that he walked to) and enjoying some nutritious refreshment via Sheetz. These guys don’t act like rock stars. They don’t talk like stars. And most importantly they don’t treat anyone like the stereotypical rock star.
Before the show began I also ran into Josie from KornRow.com. She is super awesome and it was a pleasure to finally meet her and the people behind KornRow. Anyways, she shared some pix of her spending the day with some of the members of Korn who invited her, and other fans, hanging out at one of Ray’s family member’s farms (in the area) complete with camels and a leopard and all kinds of cool exotic animals. How many bands take their fans on intimate stuff like that? That was all before the show even began. But the show was what everyone was there for. Especially because Brian, fondly known as “Head”, was finally fully back with the band and even recording.
This was the first performance with Head in the States and it was going to be a momentous occasion. They could not have opened with a better song. It’s the song many of us discovered Korn with and became instant fans. (I remember seeing the video at 3AM on MTV one early morning after returning from Casey’s Draft House. It was the next day that CD became mine and my friends soundtrack. We saw the band at a small college in Ohio, caught them at Metropole, Lollapolooza, hung out with Fieldy and Head backstage at the Vans Warped Tour, and many more times in the beginning of their career.) All of it started with “Blind” and it remains my favorite song from the band. Return to present day and the hits just kept on coming (see the set list provided by KornRow.com). It was a special moment to hear them play “Chi”, especially when my bud Jesus gave Head a Chi sticker he made in honor of Chi Cheng from The Deftones (who was a very good friend of Korn) and he immediately put it on his guitar (see pictures below). Besides those mentioned, some highpoints would be “Falling Away From Me”, “Coming Undone”, “Another Brick In The Wall” and “Freak On A Leash”.
Korn is back in top form. For those of you who saw the Stage AE in Pittsburgh show last year, which was very good as well, there is nothing comparable to the interplay between Munky and Head that has returned. That chemistry was missing and is now back in full force. The between song guitar banter was mesmerizing. But as far as reunions go don’t hold your breath for former drummer David Silveria to come back (more on Korn’s end than his), but rather look forward to the release of the new record that promises to be a return to the old formula.
Setlist 5/15/13 Rostraver Ice Garden
Falling Away From Me
Dead Bodies Everywhere
Did My Time
Shoots & Ladders/Somebody Someone
Here to Stay
Kill Mercy Within
Helmet in the Bush
No Place to Hide
Another Brick in the Wall
Got the Life
Freak On a Leash
All photos ©2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine
Steelesque has been making headlines as of late. Their debut ep, Johnny on the Spot, is being release by U.K. label, Tuppence a Bag Records, they’re playing the Three Rivers Arts Festival on June 11th, they’ve garnished praise in the Pittsburgh City Paper, and due to their high energy stage presence complete with genuine gratitude for their audiences they have acquired enough street cred to stand on their name alone.
Steelesque works for a number of reasons, not least of which being the solid, well rehearsed rock songs. But there is something else that the band brings to the stage, something a bit harder to notice, and that is balance. There is certainly a balance in rock persona that is easy to spot (here I list the rock persona by appearance on stage from least rock ‘n’ roll to most: 5. Mark Shearman-Bass; with his Penguins shirt and camo cargo shorts he’s content with laying down a slick bass line and leaving the rock ‘n’ roll looks to Rob. 4. Bobby Bell-Drums; it’s easy to forget that he’s back there behind his wooden fortress. This is high praise for a drummer, he locks in the beat and it becomes so natural attention drifts elsewhere. Only when he throws in a quick fill do you realize just how competent a drummer he is. 3. Scott Hazuda-keys/vocals; his fluent left hand shows a well rounded understanding of the instrument and his harmonies are spot on. 2. Eric James-lead guitar; he never noodles, every note has its place and he never upstages anyone which can’t be said for a majority of lead guitarists. 1. Rob Eldridge-lead vocals/rhythm guitar; so rock ‘n’ roll–from his sunglasses to his trademark fedora he’s the perfect front man. Unapologetic yet unpretentious, sincere and gracious, he’s a magnet for the audience’s attention.)
Appearance, though isn’t the only balance that Steelesque provides. The sound itself is a melting pot of dynamic rhythm, precise harmony, and polyphonic swells. This band clearly believes in what they are doing and trusts each other’s skills. They are a brave band, one moment playing to their strength which is the energized American rock song a la Black Crows/.38 special, the next moment morphing into a dreamy ballad, and even have some hippie shit up their sleeve with drawn out lead guitar solos and punchy, Primus style bass.
There is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to Steelesque, and yet there is nothing predictable.
When I heard Soundgarden was coming to Pittsburgh’s Stage AE for a May outdoor show I was ecstatic. I envisioned a warm spring evening accompanied by killer entertainment…well, warm spring evening my ass. The temperature was in the 30’s, not to mention the rain that occasionally spat at us. Although somewhat miserable, it did not stop the some 4,000 fans that filled the sold out venue to see the grunge legends. For the Seattle natives, it probably felt like a taste of home.
After waiting for 1 ½ hours from the time doors opened due to no opening act, the band finally took the stage. The atmosphere was electric. The set list was well proportioned to include twenty plus songs that spanned the group’s career. They kept a great balance by mixing songs like “By Crooked Steps”, “Halfway There” and “Eyelids Mouth” in with older favorites like “Spoonman”, “Blow Up the Outside World”, “Rusty Chain” and “4th of July”. Cornell, who spoke little between songs, had the crowd laughing when he asked his tour manager to have the Bayer sign atop Mt. Washington turned off. “Can we get that sign up there turned off? It’s very distracting and I feel obliged to read it every time it changes”, said Cornell. He also went on to state, “Those are non-effective drugs it’s advertising anyway”.
The encore followed suit with the rest of the set with a mix of classic and new with “Been Away Too Long”, “My Wave”, “Black Hole Sun” and “Rowing”.
In the end, one could never tell these guys had taken a 13 year hiatus. After all of these years, singer Chris Cornell can still mesmerize the crowd with his seductively sultry yet powerful voice. These guys were able to take us on a musical roller coaster ranging from ‘in your face’ head banging into sweet melodic harmonies without missing a beat accompanied by some mind blowing graphics created especially for the tour. Hard to believe it’s been over 20 years since they visited the Burgh. The last thing Cornell promised was to not stay away so long this time. Here is hoping Chris keeps his promise.
*A tip for collectors: At the merch booth the first four posters and vinyl copies of King Animal are autographed and sold at the normal price!
Setlist: Pittsburgh, PA STAGE AE
All photos ©2013 AWeldingphoto & Pittsburgh Music Magazine
They’re a little bit electro, a little bit rock n’ roll and now, Toronto, ON’s award nominated electro / industrial rockers The Rabid Whole are taking their unique sound on the road once again for American and Canadian tour dates to support Italy’s Dope Stars Inc. along with dates to support Edmonton’s King Doom’s Canadian dates in Ontario, Quebec and Halifax, NS. They recently rocked the hosue at 31st Street Pub and we have the pix to prove it courtesy of PMM’s very own Jason Hann…
All photos ©2013 JHannphoto & Pittsburgh Music Magazine
The Rabid Whole
Video has surfaced of deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso reading the official complaint in the arraignment of As I Lay Dying’s lead singer Tim Lambesis as he stares on with a blank look:
Photo: Fred Blauth
Trace Cyrus spoke with me before his show at Altar Bar on April 27th. Miley’s brother. Billy Ray’s son. Shirtless, covered in tattoos, and without removing his sunglasses he prepared for my barrage of questions, a slight disinterest in his body language. You can imagine how one might feel conducting an interview with such a first impression. While I geared up in an attempt assert my own coolness despite my age, humble income, and complete lack of tattoos, Trace Cyrus began to open up about his shortcomings as a songwriter and musician. He freely spoke of his family’s connection to the industry and how fortunate he has been because of it. He acknowledged that without his sister he wouldn’t have had access to his first band (it was on the set of Hannah Montana where he was connected with Metro Station, a teen pop foursome who made a splash on the charts with their single “Shake It.”) All in all, Trace Cyrus is an extremely likable guy, humble and down to earth. Shame on me for assuming otherwise.
All that being said, real people like you and I may acknowledge that while he may be down to earth what earth is he down to? Certainly not mine. He never finished high school, never had a real job, and experienced immediate musical success. But our experiences are always our own and there are still universal emotions and struggles. Trace Cyrus isn’t entirely void of the existential crises that post-modern intellectuals like to boast.
Growing up with Billy Ray Cyrus as a father would get any Nashville youngster in the early-mid ’90s an immediate identity, and perhaps it brought more comforts than most people have. But his identity, regardless of its fortunes, was crafted. Crafted by the music industry and music fans. This realization does not escape him. His celebrity persona followed him to Toronto, Canada where Billy Ray agreed to make a television show. “I hated living in Canada,” Cyrus admits. “I got bullied a lot, it was probably the worst part of my life.”
All this time Cyrus had attended nine different schools, his father was continuously under pressure to repeat the success of “Achey Breaky Heart,” and Trace had no identity to call his own. Then, on the brink of adult hood, Trace made a bold decision. He dropped out of high school and moved to California. ” In California, nobody gave a crap that my dad was Billy Ray, I just got to be me.”
Hollywood clubs, and parties attracted the young Cyrus. Now he admits that those days are over and looks forward to moving back to Tennessee and buying a house. At the the time however, upper tier socializing advanced his confidence and laid the foundation for his energetic on-stage presence that served Metro Station well. All of this he credits to California.
That is not to say that it has been one success after another. Metro Station parted ways, best friends separating. His first album under the moniker Ashland High, Geronimo, was released to mixed reviews, and Trace admits that Miley and Billy Ray are still referenced whenever anyone discusses his music–it has to happen, though and ultimately Cyrus knows that.
Growing up within the music industry is still growing up and the pressures of adult hood have not gone unnoticed by the 24 year old. Cyrus takes in all in stride, however. He’s recreated himself once, he can do it again.While he still mainly plays to the 15-17 year old market, and this is not surprising, Cyrus strays little from the teen-pop genre, Trace asserts that he is trying to reach out to his older fans who grew up with Metro Station. It seems as if it is working. There was a substantial number of folks in their early 20’s who attended the show. Maybe they were there out of nostalgia, or maybe, as Cyrus’ presence has become far more personal on stage old Metro Station fans are getting a vision of what one of their teenage idols has experienced entering adulthood. And they’re realizing that he’s feeling the same sort of pressure, expectations, and confusion they are.
While there is certainly room for the young Cyrus to grow musically and lyrically, Trace Cyrus doesn’t seem to ignore experience and so it is a growth that is sure to happen.
One of my favorite rock star encounters to tell is the time I ran into Layne Staley, the now deceased singer of Alice in Chains, back in the early nineties in a bar near Ft. Lauderdale. I had been living in Miami for a few months, crashing on friends floors, making ends meet by working landscaping with Cuban illegals and down and out guys who lost everything due to their addictions and were trying to get their lives back together, having met the owner of the company through AA. My friend from college whose floor I was sleeping on was dating the manager of the company who was kind enough to let me plant palm trees and work on Julia Iglesias’ house inbetween looking for other work. Anyways, I was still pretty broke and living on Taco Bell bean burritos so I could not afford to go see Alice in Chains and their opener GrunTruck playing in Miami. Thus, I was fairly bummed.
My former next door neighbor happened to move to North Miami Beach and she took me out to a bar to buy me a few brews to cheer me up. There I am nursing my beer minding my own business and this scraggly guy comes up to the bar with a cane and his leg in a case. It’s fucking Layne. I could not believe it. He was fairly lucid. “Layne, can I get you a beer?” I said sheepishly. “Sure, man, thanks,” replied Layne in a deep growl never really looking at me in his sunglasses. Layne had recently broke his leg on tour and it was in a full cast. Searching for some kind of conversation with the man I simply said, “How’s your leg?” To which he replied, “It’s just a fuckin’ leg man.” And then he walked off and sat with some people and we never spoke again.
Some twenty odd years later and Layne is long gone but Alice in Chains is still very much alive. They certainly proved it last night in Pittsburgh. Oddly playing the Benedum Theater, usually reserved for the ballet and opera or the likes of Tony Benett, AIC brought the rock right out of the gate. New lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist William DuVall sounds exactly like Staley while looking a lot more like Lenny Kravitz and he proved more than able to fill those shoes and carry on not only as replacement but as a true contributor just as he has done since we first heard him belt out “Check My Brain” in 2009. But Jerry Cantrell’s band did not focus on newer material most of the evening, they certainly knew their audience well and stuck to the meat of what the audience came to see and that was classic Alice. Second in the set was “Them Bones” with high points in the evening being “Dam That River”, “Down In A Hole”, and of course “Would?”. The tremendous encore consisted of ” Man in the Box”, “No Excuses”, and “Rooster”. That last tune was made extra amazing by the special appearance of The Rooster himself, Jerry’s dad.
Jerry Cantrell continues to prove why he is one of the best axe men in the business and a tremendous songwriter and riff master. Sean Kinney and Mike Inez still keep it down extremely well and prove you can still put on a great rock show without a ton of fluff and smoke. It’s a great way to warm up the weekend for their Seattle brethren Soundgarden stopping by on Sunday at Stage AE. Grunge is alive and well people. Layne Staley and Mike Starr…RIP.
Setlist Pittsburgh 5/8/13
There are times when fate intervenes in ones life to bring sweet surprises. Upon arriving to Pittsburgh’s Altar Bar for The Dillinger Escape Plan show to find out that The Faceless would not be performing due to their van breaking down, I entered the facility with disappointment and concern for fellow Pittsburgh resident and lead singer for The Faceless, Geoffrey Ficco. Then I was hit with a droning sound reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age, Black Sabbath, Kyuss, and Wizard. I quickly grabbed my camera and starting snapping pictures of the band I came to find out was Royal Thunder.
Royal Thunder’s debut full length ‘CVI’ (roman numeral 106) is a mix of psych/prog/metal that is fueled by singer and bassist Mlny Parsonz’ sultry voice and Lemmy style bass playing. Imagine the talent of Stevie Nicks with a metal voice and the power chord bass heaviness plowing from the speakers backed by blues based rock that hearkens back to classic rock ‘thunder’ from the seventies greats. From the very opening of ‘CVI’ the ears are reminded of those primal sounds that we hold so dear to our hearts with first tune, ‘Parsonz Curse’. Hard, heavy, pounding, and crescendo building, it’s an excellent introduction to what lays ahead…a no B.S. LP that’s solid from beginning to end.
The guitar work of Josh Weaver is not only strong and superbly riff oriented, it is heavily rooted in the greats of the genre, no trash, no flash, just pure crunch and doom nicely layered with Josh Coleman’s rhythm guitar work. It’s a combination reminiscent of the Young brothers of AC/DC fame (even down to some Gibson SG use). Combine this with Lee Smith holding down the low end with percussion work that fits quite nicely in an age that relies too heavily on what effects can do or how fast double bass drums move and it’s a refreshing reminder of why metal has ruled since the inception of the genre.
This is not an LP to download in bits an pieces, please grab the entire thing and play from start to finish like you did when you were young, or like your parents did. It’s a gorgeous throwback with a new edge that you will love turning your friends onto and telling them you discovered them first. If you are lucky enough to see them live they absolutely do not disappoint and will make you a true believer like they made out of us here at Pittsburgh Music Mag.
Highlights: “No Good”, “Parsonz Curse”, “Black Water Vision”
If you like: Mastodon, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk
“blues-infused rock ‘n’ roll, wrapped in protective barbed-metal packaging”– Paste Magazine
“a revved-up Southern hard-rocker that howls like Led Zeppelin astride a psychedelic unicorn.” – NPR.org
“Recommended for all fans of straight up, non-ironic hard rock. And we all know the world needs more of this kind of thing right now.”– Verbicide
“Royal Thunder deliver blues-y doom riffs fronted by a smokey female voice… think Black Math Horseman or Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde fronting Black Sabbath.”– BrooklynVegan
“Atlanta’s Royal Thunder make mystical and muscular heavy metal in the classic, pre-“extreme” vein…a variety of awesome we haven’t seen in ages.” – Nashville Scene
“Parsonz’ vocals are slithering and over the top, deep and throaty, the riffs distorted, the drums crashing in…the heaviest seventies hard rock jam you never heard, the hooks perfect, the vocals, so BAD ASS.” -Aquarius Records
The Rolling Stones kicked off their “50 and Counting” tour Friday, May 3, at STAPLES Center. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood played an extraordinary 23-song set to a sold out crowd. Fans got a special treat when they played “Emotional Rescue,” live for the very first time. “Honky Tonk Women,” “Start Me Up,” “Miss You,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Brown Sugar,” “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “Paint It Black,” and “Gimme Shelter” had fans on their feet throughout the entire show.
Photos: Kevin Mazur
The band was joined on stage by special guests, Gwen Stefani on a moving rendition of “Wild Horses” and Keith Urban on a smoking performance of “Respectable.” Mick Taylor, who will be a guest throughout the tour, played with the Stones on “Midnight Rambler.” The Rolling Stones ended their two hour plus show with a three-song encore of “Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash and “Satisfaction.”
The tour will continue onto Oakland, San Jose, Las Vegas, Anaheim, Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, Boston and Philadelphia.
“50 AND COUNTING” TOUR DATES
May 5 – Oakland – Oracle Arena
May 8 – San Jose – HP Pavilion
May 11 – Las Vegas MGM – Grand Garden Arena
May 15 – Anaheim – Honda Center
May 18 – Anaheim – Honda Center
May 20 – Los Angeles – STAPLES Center
May 25 – Toronto – Air Canada Centre
May 28 – Chicago – United Center
May 31 – Chicago – United Center
June 3 – Chicago – United Center
June 6 – Toronto – Air Canada Centre
June 9 – Montreal – Bell Centre
June 12 – Boston – TD Garden
June 14 – Boston TD – Garden
June 18 – Philadelphia – Wells Fargo Center
June 21 – Philadelphia – Wells Fargo Center
Hailing from Knoxville Tennessee, Whitechapel brings the heavy back to heavy metal. There is no limit for how heavy their music can honestly get. If you don’t believe me, just check-out their re-mastered version of their first album “The Somatic Defilement” that was just re-released not even a month ago. After seeing Whitechapel numerous times since they started playing seven years ago, they keep getting better and better every single time and just keep raising the bar. This time around was another story. This would be a show just to kind of forget. Not because of their performance, but because the venue could not handle the intensity of their music. One would think that Club Zoo would have prepared for this concert a little bit better but they did not. The sound was absolutely terrible the whole night for all of the bands. Whitechapel just got the worst of it, having technical problems the whole set from start to finish. The speakers kept on giving out to the point where there was nothing even coming out of them. People were beyond ticked off but who could blame them? On another note, I give Whitechapel all the credit in the world for keeping it professional and staying on stage, plus getting the crowd really into it by helping them scream the songs and keeping it going… talk about fan support, which is probably the only reason why they even stayed on stage. All and all it was still a solid performance by Whitechapel. Club Zoo on the other hand is a place I would rather not step foot in again for not knowing how to run their own sound system, which ruined the show for a lot of people. The good news is that Whitechapel is returning to Pittsburgh for their next tour which they will be headlining. Believe me when I tell you that this is a band you do not want to miss, do not judge them from the show at Club Zoo, go see them again in a few months.
The following photos © 2013 Jason Hann Photo
photos © 2013 DMondinephoto, MMendlowitzphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine
Real old electric blues had a specific tonality and sound. Robert Johnson, Muddy and even Buddy Guy didn’t have any Bonamassa, or Hendrix “Red House” tones, like any of the big “blues” guys today. Missing was the “Dumble” sound or any of what I would call contemp-blues tones in their guitars. Doyle Bramhall III maybe one of the few guys that goes back and forth between contemp-blues and old electric-blues along with Clapton.
Ole school electric-blues is thin in it’s presentation. Auerbach steals a page out of SRV’s book when we discuss tone…obviously not style or even choice in guitar for that matter. Auerbach is the king of “dumble” sounding blues. Influencing new hitters like Gary Clark Jr. I always refer to his really cool rig rundown being a player myself. Gotta love the squishy tweed deluxe Japanese fuzz-wah sounds.
The guitar in those bands (often with piano, mouth harp, or other instruments in the mix) just totally stood out. Dan Auerbach is a traditionalist and fails to completely conform to modern blues sounds. Many people were confused with the muffled sound of his guitar. People who know The Black Keys realize this is the palette that Auerbach paints from and we dig it!
Nobody seems to go for that sound anymore. Yet a lot of covers of the originals do it with a more mid-rangy, chirpy, OD sound. In fact, a lot of the old electric blues wasn’t even close to being in OD territory. This territory was fantastic when Carney and Auerbach went two piece during the early middle part of the show doing down home versions of Thickfreakness, Girl On My Mind and Your Touch.
I can see where in today’s world, we have changed our tastes, and it could wear thin over a whole set, but for those of us “chasing the tone”, it might be a cool idea, for authentic blues sound, to play a couple of songs on the bridge pickup, and let the bass and drums (and maybe piano) cover the low and mid ranges. This would be my only complaint after watching The Black Keys rip it up last night at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh PA.
Tempo discussion was also thrown around the crowd. Patrick Carney always charges out of the gates like a bull at Pampalona. He leads and very rarely follows. So when Auerbach starts most of the songs you have an unpredictable dichotomy between chase and follow. Now don’t be misled by my observations which tend to be highly critical when analyzing live music. I truly loved this show and everything about it. The magic is never lost in their set which is listed below (thx to “Setlist“).
Little Black Submarines was a highlight for a lot of people starting off with great acoustic sound similar to the record and eventually morphing into it’s muscle flexing power rock ending. The rest of the set lived up to it’s billing and The Black Keys deserve the success they’ve garnered in the past 3 years. They’ve always seemed to carry that blue collar swagger with them and they truly appreciate their fan base.
The rule being that if you really dig at least 3 releases from a band you may be hooked. I loved the Magic Potion CD the first time I heard it and everything they put out after it. I guess we must concede the fact that Ohio is the home of one of the best bands from the rust belt. Maybe there’s another Black Keys in the making, in some basement in Pittsburgh. We can only hope. But, I have a feeling that those guys from Akron will be around for a long time.
- Howlin’ for You
- Next Girl
- Run Right Back
- Same Old Thing
- Dead and Gone
- Gold on the Ceiling
- Girl Is on My Mind
- Your Touch
- Little Black Submarines
- Money Maker
- Strange Times
- Sinister Kid
- Nova Baby
- Ten Cent Pistol
- She’s Long Gone
- Tighten Up
- Lonely Boy
- Everlasting Light & I Got Mine
All photos ©2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine
“The promoter wanted me to tell everyone in the seats way up there that this building has an excellent ventilation system,” Wayne Coyne began to express to the Pittsburgh crowd, “and he said it’s okay that you guys smoke pot up there.” Wayne Coyne is a funny dude, not in a comedic sense, although that comment sure got the tuned up Steel City audience in high gear for a night of melodic celebration. Coyne is just well, ‘different’.
Coming out onto a high rise platform with snaked light up tubes wrapping around in some space ship Matrix 2001 Odessey love ship, taped up with aluminum and tubing reminiscent of pulsating organisms, Wayne literally clutched a baby doll for at least the first three and a half songs, often caressing it, sucking its toes and hands, as though it were a living child in his hands. His outfit of metallic leather, silver metallic beads glued near his eyes, with the look of a blue bearded cross between Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan playing with toy trumpets and bellowing out for the crowd to make more noise from behind the thick smoke was like an alien presence before all.
Even if one were not truly familiar with the band that has been around since their hit in the nineties with, “She Don’t Use Jelly”, the surrounding light show, the atmosphere, the showmanship and the sheer magnitude of the presence that the band exudes combined with a musicianship that is rarely found in many popular groups is enough to keep most concert goers enthralled. The Pittsburgh crowd appeared more like stunned. With a true understanding of how integral the visual is with the visceral and the cerebral and the soulful much like in the vein of Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips have that certain something that puts one into an otherworldly state without the use of chemical enhancement (although it may not hurt). It’s surrealist art for your ears. With any luck they will bring their space opera back to visit us again soon to explore their new effort “The Terror” further and Mr. Coyne can continue being ‘different’ because that’s what makes him and his band so exceptional and beautiful and confusing. Babydolls, toy trumpets, and all.
Setlist: Look…The Sun Is Rising ,The Terror ,The W.A.N.D. ,Virgo Self-Esteem Broadcast ,Silver Trembling Hands ,Try to Explain ,One More Robot ,Sympathy 3000-21 ,“Heroes” (David Bowie cover,) Do You Realize?? , Always There, In Our Hearts
All photos © 2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine
The Rolling Stones played a surprise gig at the echoplex in Los Angeles on Saturday night leading up to the opening of their “50 and Counting” Tour which kicks off at STAPLES Center on Friday, May 3rd. The tour debut will be followed by performances in Oakland, San Jose, Las Vegas, Anaheim, Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, Boston and Philadelphia.
-by Dave Mondine
With the newer generation of metal called “metalcore” spreading like a disease throughout the United States, After the Burial is one of the first bands to start this trend. Metalcore is a mixture of the old school heavy metal mixed with some newer more technical and electronic sounds. After the Burial was joined by four other bands at the Rex Theatre in Pittsburgh, Within the Ruins, The Contortionist, Class Cloud, and City in the Sea.
Finally showing up to the show, The Contortionist was about to go on. They haven’t been around the whole mainstream scene a whole lot which in this case is a good thing. They are very similar to Between the Buried and Me with their slow to fast pace technicalities. Their style is very unique and listening to them is defiantly a journey by itself. Watching these guys on stage wasn’t really entertaining to but this time around it was more about the music. Just from observing you can tell that they really get into what they are playing and are concentrating extremely hard since timing is a huge factor for this genre of music. I wouldn’t say The Contortionist is highly recommended since their style is hard to get into sometimes but they are defiantly worth checking out if you are into Between the Buried and Me at all.
Next up was Within the Ruins and personally I was more excited to see these guys play over everyone else. Within the Ruins is one of those bands who just keeps getting better with every album. Their newest album that has already come out this year, “Elite”, is one of the best and most solid albums I have heard in awhile. It’s fresh, heavy, and nonstop fast pace action. So experiencing their performance was hopefully going to be completely outrageous and it was even better than that. Within the Ruins gave it their all and had the crowd jumping all around and moshing quite a bit. Playing a lot of new songs made the crowd pretty happy and I can’t say I blame them. It seems that Within the Ruins is not afraid to tell you exactly what they think about everything in their song lyrics. Being straight up atheists probably has something to do with that. All and all this was defiantly the best performance of the night and if you need someone to jam to, Within the Ruins is where its at.
Last, After the Burial was finally up. They are one of those bands who has a pretty decent size following but they are pretty underrated. Just like The Acacia Strain, when these guys come to town to play, you end up seeing a nice size crowd ready to go. Probably the best part about After the Burial is that even though they are recording a new album (set to come out this year) they played a nice even mixture of old and new songs to pleas the crowd. What more could you ask for? While on stage these guys were very hard to get pictures of but they made up for it with the high volume of their drummers bass drum blasting out of the speakers. Just one of those feeling that makes your body shake it was so loud with such a deep sound. Seeing After the Burial was a nice experience because they do tend to actually put guitar solos in their songs, which is hard to find with newer bands. But these guys have been around for awhile so they know how this whole game works. Once again I would recommend checking After the Burial out if you need some pretty sick metalcore to listen to, because they are some of the first to play that style.
I’ll just come right out and admit it. I was a DEP virgin before last Thursday. Hard to believe that even though I have been a fan for around a decade that I never did get a chance to see one of the most enigmatic bands on the prog/mathcore metal scene ever. The band that I first became curious about after seeing a picture of Greg Puciato diving from an absurd height above the stage into the crowd. The band that hit me to the core with their music, bruising my guts, and tripping my mind out lyrically at the same instant. The band that totally stood me on my head when they released “Plagiarism”, an EP of four covers and two originals that ranged from Soundgarden’s ‘Jesus Christ Pose’ (daring, ambitious, and ballsy) to Justin Timberlake’s ‘Like I Love You’ (holy shit…you can do that?).
Dillinger Escape Plan has been around since 1999 in various configurations, but it really was not until 2001 when Greg Puciato came on board when the ball started to truly roll. By 2004 Greg was solidified and DEP were making music history. Their performances are legendary. So, it was with great expectations that I came to Pittsburgh’s Altar Bar last Thursday. DEP did not disappoint Neither did the Steel City crowd. After being battered and bruised in the pit for the first three tunes, including the new ‘Prancer’, I took a step back to recover and also marvel in the participation that Greg took the crowd into and the wild swinging guitar antics that Ben Weinman flew into while the rest of the band held it down. It was all I was hoping for and more. I literally dropped my jaw in awe. many moments when I should have been taking photos I had to just take it all in and let my mind wrap around the scene before me. The beautiful, chaotic, carnal, harmonious yet disjointed attack of sound and sight that split and turned and folded back into itself like hell candy for your ears was priceless.
All Photos ©2013 AWeldingPhoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine
As one can see by the setlist, it did not take long for Clutch to break into their new smash, Earth Rocker, on April 19 in Pittsburgh at Stage AE. Even though the first five songs of the night were pulled from their latest LP (which is excellent by all standards) Clutch definitely did not let their diehard fans down by peppering the rest of the evening with just a few classics and deep cuts, but all told the night held nine tracks from their new one out of nineteen! Hmm…to the outsider one might think “ballsy”, but Clutch have always played by their own rules and it seems as though the Pittsburgh fans did not seem to mind. Their signature sound “mountain rock” buzz was humming on all pistons and kept the crowd at maximum intensity especially through “The Mob Goes Wild”.
All photos ©2013 Pittsburgh Music Magazine and KBegleyphoto
Russia’s LOUNA were winners of the 2009 “Best New Artist of the Year” Russian Alternative Music Prize (RAMP) and the 2012 “Female Vocalist of the Year” Nashe Award, and are setting their sights on the American hard-rock scene with their new album, Behind A Mask, in-stores and available online April 30, 2013 via Red Decade Records and MEG/RED.
Lead singer Lousine “Lou” Gevorkian is the immediate standout here, not just because she is attractive in that masculine dandy tough girl sense, but because she is the most talented at the use of her instrument; her voice. In a world that has become immersed in autotune and over-production, Behind A Mask boasts true musical talent with only 10-15 seconds of vocal correction on the entire 45-minute record. Behind A Mask features 10 of the band’s best songs from their first two albums and have been painstakingly adapted into English by American producer and lyricist Travis Leake (the SLoT). The album was mixed by renowned producer/engineer Dan Korneff (Breaking Benjamin, The Pretty Reckless, Papa Roach, My Chemical Romance, Paramore) and mastering duties were handled by the legendary Ted Jensen of Sterling Sound, New York.
‘System Destroys’ sets the tone for the LP and introduces the listener to “Lou” who could possibly be described as the love child of Joan Jett and Pat Benatar. She compliments the chugging riffs of pop metal that back the lyrics quite well. And so it continues for the rest of the LP with very little break in the formula. There is a very purposeful drive to commit to a particular radio friendly hard rock sound here that should serve LOUNA quite well.
‘Fight Club’ also has the melodic high end vocal range that highlights Gevorkian talent and also shows the brilliance of the arrangement and production that puts such a polished sound and branding on LOUNA‘s tone. Like the majority of the songs, the vocals are the standout “instrument” here. This is not to say that the musicians are bad by any means, it’s just to describe that there is not much complexity and that the guitars take a back seat here.
“My Rock N Roll” may be a favorite of what is a fairly tame tune with some glimpses of potential ferocity. Lousine has great range if she would let her voice take over as boldly as she does when she screams it would be interesting to see where that would take her.
Other standouts such as ‘Storming Heaven’ and ‘Inside’ show that LOUNA have great potential. ‘Inside’ in-particular begs for an unplugged performance. Some road experience in The States, mixing with other bands and cultures, and growing as a band will possibly take this band to great places. LOUNA is reminiscent of a nubile; ready for action but in need of a bit of experience in order to gain greatness.
3 of 5 stars
Our dearest Family,
This is the hardest thing to write to you. Your love and heart and devotion to Chi was unconditional and amazing. I know that you will always remember him as a giant of a man on stage with a heart for every one of you. He was taken to the emegency [sic] room and at 3 am today his heart just suddenly stopped. He left this world with me singing songs he liked in his ear.
He fought the good fight. You stood by him sending love daily. He knew that he was very loved and never alone. I will write more later. I will be going through the oneloveforchi and any other information may not be reliable. If you have any stories or messages to share please send them to the onelove site. Please hold Mae and Ming and the siblings and especially Chi’s son, Gabriel in your prayers. It is so hard to let go.
With great love and “Much Respect!” Mom J (and Chi)
Pittsburgh Music Magazine would like to send out our deepest sympathy and prayers to the entire Chi Cheng and Deftones families.