Get your rundown of two fantastic shows that happened in the last week with reviews of the Rob Zombie/Alice Cooper tour as well as the Thrones and Christian Mistress tour, complete with pictures from both events. As usual, read on for a rundown of just about everything metallic that going down concert wise for the upcoming week. Also on tap are some CD reviews that didn’t make the print issue of the October SLUG. Next week prepare for a preview of the Slayer/Megadeth/Anthrax tour.
Friday, Oct. 8 offers up East coast metalcore act Within the Ruins supporting their new album Invade with locals Dethrone the Sovereign, I Am the Ocean and Loom at Club Edge, 615 North, 400 W, SLC. Tickets are $8 with doors opening at 8 p.m.
Also on Friday Aura Surreal will host a CD release party with Still-Born, Reveeler and Morrow Hill at Club Vegas, 445 S. 400 W, SLC 21+ Tickets, $5.
Saturday, Oct. 9, The South Shore Sports Bar & Grill (2827 S. State) will play host to the Project Independent Age of Aggression show featuring a whole mess of bands with Synapse Defect, Incideous, Deny Your Faith, Intertwined, Lidsore, Arsenic Addiction, Unthinkable Thoughts, Aura Surreal and A Balance of Power, all for a mere $5.
Also Saturday night, In The Venue (219 S. 600 W.) SLC will host to The GhostbusTour with IwrestledaBearOnce, Eyes Set to Kill, Chelsea Grin, The Chariot and Vanna. Tickets $13.50.
The stormy clouds and winds on Monday, Oct. 4th provided a nice ominous backdrop for the appropriately titled Halloween Hootenanny tour at the USANA amphitheater. Openers The Murderdolls got stuck playing the early slot before some people just had the plain old time to make it out to the venue, and wound up playing to people milling into amphitheater. Shock and awe heavy metal favorites Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie had plenty to offer musically and by way of their fantastically tongue-in-cheek evil stage show. Alice Cooper’s show used classic theatrics as well as some new ones all with the soundtrack of classic heavy metal as compared to Rob Zombie’s sensory overload set-up of video screens, stage props, beat pounding, heavier-edged metal, and of course, pyrotechnics. All in all it was great way to kick off the fall season. Fans may have been divided by their favorite artist because of generational differences or just plain personal taste, but everyone knew before Alice hit the stage that they were in for a night of not just hard hitting heavy metal anthems old and new, but illustrious stage shows that go above and beyond. Roughly 4,500 fans showed up. Many wore detailed make up, ranging from the classic eyes of Alice Cooper to zombied and ghoulish styles, all definitely playful. There were even a few creepy clowns, gothic or rocker styled clothing, abd fans already sporting pre-show purchased merch, which included a T-shirt with plain white lettering saying “Rob Motherfucking Zombie” on the front and the back reading “That’s Right Bitch You Heard Me.”
Cooper hit the stage and immediately went into playing two of his best known songs, starting off with “Schools Out” followed by “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” which led to an unleashing of large balloons on the crowd. It seemed a bit out of place, but there’s great fun in watching an unsuspecting concert attendee get hit with a giant balloon. “Wicked Young Man” featured a finale of Cooper stabbing a stagehand with a sword. After the immediate hit songs, Cooper went into lesser-known realms—at least to my ears that are still discovering the awesomely fantastic catalogue of Alice Cooper albums—starting off with “Ballad of Dwight Fry,” “Go to Hell” and “Cold Ethyl,” which had Cooper trouncing about the stage with a stuffed limp female dummy which he serenade. Shortly after, Cooper was injected with a giant syringe leading into the more glam-oriented 80s tune “Poison.” This lead way to a striptease and “Nurze Rosetta,” which ended in Cooper strangling the stripper girl. All in all each song led into the next with a generalized theme in mind. Alice was then guillotined for his crime, only to return with “Only Woman Bleed,” “I Never Cry,” and “Be My Lover.” Newer song “Vengeance is Mine” had Cooper atop a large stair platform, using his gruff voice to lead chants of “Vengeance.” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Dirty Diamond” had Cooper throwing out fake cash and necklaces into the audience. “Killer,” set Cooper into a spiked torture device complete with blood. Cooper closed out his already massive and vivaciously brilliant set with the less theatrical “I Love the Dead,” “Feed my Frankenstein,” and “Eighteen.” All I can say is if you missed Alice Cooper this time you sure better hope the 62 year-old rocker returns to Utah - his music and stage show has not only led him to a rock and roll hall of fame nomination but influenced countless shock/horror/theatrical themed artists.
Years ago I would have jumped at the chance to see White Zombie or even Rob Zombie when he went solo in 1998. As a teen I absolutely worshiped the Astro-Creep 2000 and La Sexorcisto albums. Things change and we outgrow some musical tastes, but I still hold great memories of blasting White Zombie and my fair share of Zombie’s solo stuff too. My interest has always been there so I’ve managed to give every album he’s created a listen and followed his journey into filmmaking, which is still a bright point for the notoriously dreadlocked big bearded, seemingly monstrous Zombie. The days of larger than life, big arena stage shows for metal seem to have come and gone, so when they do happen, I’m pretty much there with bells on just to enjoy the spectacle.
With photo pass in tow, I ventured behind the front barricade blocking the pit area of the USANA crowd from the stage getting glimpses close up of Zombie’s intricate skeleton microphone stands, video screens and other stage pieces. A giant robot enclosed Rob Zombie as the bassist and guitarist John 5 (of Marilyn Manson’s band as well as accomplished solo artist) and drummer Joey Jordison of the Murderdolls and Slipknot made their way on to the stage. Zombie emerged from the foggy Robot creature looking like he was prepared to go to war with a helmet, a vest that could be mistaken for Kevlar and a large skeleton-with-multiple-arms microphone stand. It reminded me a bit of how Judas Priest’s Rob Halford has made his stage entrances. As I ran around the course of the stage get a decent picture, Zombie tore into the first track “Superbeast,” from his first solo album Hellbilly Deluxe. Part of me wanted to stand and just rock out, being within arms reach of the gloriously devilish set-up of the stage, not to mention Zombie himself. “Jesus Frankenstein,” a song from the newest Zombie offering Hellbilly Deluxe: 2 followed and had a skinny, ghostly skeleton cross the stage leading way to chants of “All Hail Jesus Frankenstein.” “Scum of the Earth,” followed, continuing the hard hitting , horror drenched metal with full emphasis on massive drumbeats feeding the fuel to the already frenzied fans.
One thing I’ve noticed at concerts big or small that disgruntles me a bit (and without question at Cooper and Zombie’s show) is the good hunk of the crowd, especially those closer to the stage, busting out their phones or cameras to snap pictures or get videos. I can understand the desire of wanting memories of the concert to look back upon, but there comes a point where it conflicts with being able to soak in the atmosphere of the concert and the feelings you get when witnessing a grandiose display of stage pageantry and booming live music. How much time do some of these people actually spend watching the concert through a tiny phone screen rather than actually witnessing it through their own eyes?
Zombie rolled on through his set, delivering “Living Dead Girl,” lights in a frantic fury fog drenching the stage and classic horror imagery setting the backdrop the majority of the time. I’ve witnessed some large stage productions but Zombie definitely has an apt way of appealing to just about every bodily sense. Surging video that could cause some to have a seizure, you can feel the heat from the constant pyrotechnics if you’re close enough or if you’re further back you can just feel the bass from the loud drum beating or even the bass guitar pulsating in your chest. The highly loved hit “More Human Than Human,” that still gets plenty of play on the radio, lead a huge robotic type monster dancing to the highly beat oriented tune. Zombie’s voice throughout the set felt a bit ragged, but not enough to decrease the level of showmanship and overall sound of his band and himself. There was a fairly useless extended drum solo in the middle of the set. Yeah, Jordison is decent but being witness to some amazing drummers, (Hooglan, Nicholas Barker, Sandoval, Lombardo, the list goes on), it seemed lacking. Then again extended solos are entertaining in the fact that many live acts just don’t include them anymore. John 5 had a lengthy guitar solo that led to Zombie running through the audience giving fans a treat, which ended with him playing the Star Spangled Banner with his teeth. Zombie punched out hit tunes and new ones one after another, “Supercharger Heaven,” had some awesome anime imagery, “Sick Bubblegum,” led way to audience chants of “Rock Motherfucker, Rock Motherfucker,” “Mars Needs Women,” introduced another classically sci-fi themed robot running amok on stage. “Werewolf Women of the SS” featured a video introduction that included the full faux trailer Zombie did for the Grindhouse double feature films from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Zombie ended his already bombastically over the top set with “Dragula” and “House of 1000 Corpses.”
Both Cooper and Zombie had methods to their stage shows, with each song playing into the theme of multiple songs. Zombie’s all guns blazing, over the top method did a good job at overshadowing Cooper’s antics which some might call dated, but I just call them damned awesome. Whatever the case or your opinion, the show wasn’t a competition butan offering of fun horror and darkened tunes for everyone. It was a show experience that’s completely unforgettable.
Earlier in the week in a massively different show far from the confines of the big arena mentality I caught a show on Wednesday, September 29 at Club Vegas—very much last minute, but more than worth it. One-man act Thrones performed with heavy metal crew Christian Mistress from Olympia Washington along with local doom/stoner act Dwellers and another local more ambient musical act, whose name I can’t remember, unfortunately. I caught probably the last song of their set and while far from anything metal, somebody please tell me who they were, because they delivered an amazing piece of music. Unfortunately the tour had little promotion and the crowd for the entire night was sparse—maybe a bit over 20 people in attendance. Considering the talent, it should have been much more.
I’ve been rocking Christian Mistress’s debut full-length Agony and Opium consistently since I received my promotional version. One could say they’re a retro band playing off the glory of classic heavy metal highly in the vein of NWOBHM, but by listening to recorded works they don’t feel like any of the other retro or throwback bands. Their music is earnest and uniquely catchy with punchy metal rhythms. Vocalist Christine Davis’ voice nearly dominates the crunchy metallic guitars with her sultry, throaty, heavenly heavy singing style. The band took the stage to little fanfre. One faithful fan (or just a metal seeking fanatic) stood up front and rocked out to the band’s set, which pretty much consisted of the band’s entire debut album. I have massive respect for the band. It’s their first tour and obviously there’s going to be show hiccups that don’t draw much attention to their performances but they still put forth 100 percent. I’ve never seen anything really like it the melding of classic metal and sultry serenading female vocals. The band has serious chops musically, dishing out massive riffage throughout their set. “Omega Stone” is one damned amazing song and to see it live makes it much more potent. Afterwards, I chatted it up with one of the bands’ two guitarists. Mostly small talk, but the intimacy of a small show is always a great treat—it’s a much welcome diversion from the bigger bands’ “rockstar” state of mind. Christian Mistress is a band that’s enjoyed quite the critical success with Agony & Opium but critical success and fan success are two different things. If Christian Mistress ventures back to Utah, I’ll be there and so should you.
Headliner Thrones is the full project of Joe Preston, who has performed with highly notable acts such as High on Fire, the Melvins, Earth, The Whip, C Average, Harvey Milk, Last Empire and has collaborated with Sunn 0)). Not only was Thrones my first experience with seeing a one man act, but my first real experience with drone/doom type music. Combining his act with Christian Mistress I left the club that night fully satisfied and floored only wishing I had brought money to snag some of the bands merch to support their tour and efforts because my entrance to the show was provided by a guest list spot. Now that I deviated from the subject of the sheer awesomely weirdness to immensely devastating sound from Thrones, I’ll get back to it. Preston started his set with a lengthy beginning using only his voice, distorted beyond all recognition however, like a Satanic robot teasing and demonizing what was to come. The Thrones set consisted of distorted everything geared up with just a bass and a plethora of distortion tools. Songs ranged from full drone ambient territory to more structured yet still highly distorted instrumentation and vocalizations amongst the songs. I found myself sitting more towards the back of the club close to the sound/lighting area and shutting my eyes just letting the weight, oddity and eerie beauty to wash over me with the full force of heavy ended bass rolling under my feet. The few that were in attendance for this gig should consider themselves lucky, because who knows when either artist will return.
Earth Sick Mind
Dusted Angel = Earthride + Kalas + Kyuss + High on Fire
There is no play button to listen to Dusted Angel’s debut full-length, Earth Sick Mind, only a boom button. It just may be the closest I’ll ever get to pushing down the plunger to demolish a building or some other decrepit structure. The album is seriously one sick and thick groove machine—it doesn’t tire, it keeps on rolling with various tempos and different branding of all that is the mighty groove. Somebody genetically engineered some mammoths for this album or its sonic equivalent for the rhythm section of Dusted Angel—it sounds like a big, fuzzy beast stomping concrete cinder blocks into dust. “Tards on Shards,” and “Pulverizer,” are two of the best doom/stoner/groove metal tracks you’ll hear all year. High on Fire has gotten redundant—it’s time for them to move over and let a band that can come up with some hugely devastating riffs and memorable songs steal some limelight. Find this record, own it, and embrace the power of the riff, because when they’re good, damn, they’re good, and Dusted Angel just dished out seven tracks for your worshipping ears to be pleasured by. –Bryer Wharton
A Thin Shell
October Tide = Katatonia (old) + In Mourning + Opeth (old)
October Tide, a side project of Katatonia guitarist Fredrik Norrman, released their first record in 1997, Rain Without End, and also had the fortuitous opportunity of including Katatonia vocalist Jonas Renkse. Not fully acclaimed at its initial release, Rain Without End has since become heralded as one of the best death-doom metal releases, period. October Tide have returned after a 10-year absence, headed by still-Katatonia guitarist Norrman and a reinvigorated lineup, including the vocalist from In Mourning. If you know of Rain Without End and embrace it as a favorite, don’t go into listening to the latest A Thin Shell with the expectations that it’s going to recapture what that album did. A Thin Shell is a musical vehicle driven by its favorable, memorable and amazing guitar work from Norrman that feels much more displaced from the sound he creates for Katatonia (past and present). The album twists and turns from staunch brooding & churning, slow, heavy guitar-riffing to excruciatingly melancholy melodies. It easily holds listeners’ attention with an exceptional track-by-track building and descending atmosphere. While encompassing feelings of uneasiness, it also has dashes of hope included in its melodic death and doom, with melodies that are vastly intoxicating, laced with brilliantly somber harsh undercurrents. –Bryer Wharton