Show Review: Saxon live at Reggies, Chicago IL 04/01/18

Saxon 2018

Banging drums, soaring guitars and…..Candy? That’s exactly what we got at the Saxon show on Easter Sunday in Chicago! First of all this goes with saying, this show was already going to be killer from the start. Considering two of my favorite Chicago bands were included along with one of my all time favorite bands of all time, this was an easy show to say yes to.

Shokker

Opening the show was Chicago’s own Shokker. They were definitely a good band to open up the show with their powerhouse sound that recalls the classic era of Heavy Metal. Casey Tremont’s hard hitting guitar playing was terrific along with vocalist Rachl Quinn’s soaring vocals. Easily one of the best female vocalists I’ve seen live in terms of range and charisma. The whole band overall was very tight and energetic pulling songs from their terrific debut “III” and even a blistering faithful cover of “Bark At The Moon”. I honestly would have loved to see them higher on the bill and hope to see them many more times.

Pipe

Pipe were up next and definitely had the most “interesting” stage setup with bong props and marijuana flags draped over their equipment which I felt was a bit overkill. The overall sound of the band was very simplistic hard rock akin to 90’s groups like Godsmack. However, I feel like they didn’t fit with this bill much and personally, I feel they played way too long. They just had a somewhat dull sound to me it just didn’t have the energy every other band clearly had in spades. Just not a good fit to the bill in my opinion.

Scars of Armageddon

This was my third time seeing these guys rip it up on stage and they never disappoint. their brand of epic progressive metal is done so well in the sense that it doesn’t get too repetitive or dull live and they know how to keep the energy up. However, the only thing that sucked about this performance was that they were only able to play three songs but I feel they made their point perfectly as much as they could in that short time slot.

Saxon

And finally, it was time for the Brits to invade Chicago once again. I have seen Saxon twice before in a large venue and small venue and I have to say this was the best they’ve sounded and played thus far. The sound even up front was super crisp with Nigel Glocklers tight drumming blending perfectly with both guitarists as well as Biff who was in top form singing every high and low note with ease. The only casualty was Paul Quinn bleeding almost the whole set all over hist strings but he played it off all night quite well even if he was more focused on playing than anything. Nibbs Carter I will always consider Saxon’s second front man as he is just as energetic as Biff perhaps more. The band played a wide range of songs with the new album being a large focus with I believe at least half of it being played. Where with some bands this can be way over doing it, Saxon are not afraid to let new songs shine and every song sounded as classic as the classics themselves. One of the biggest highlights was the band doing “Predator” with Nibbs handling the death metal growling vocals it was great to see them bring that one to stage. The band of course played all the classics (Power and The Glory, Dallas 1PM, Wheels of Steel” etc.”) and played an impressive two hour set that only they could match. The best moment personally was watching Biff wear my vest during Denim and Leather. It was just one of those moments as a fan that I’ll personally never forget.

Overall, this was a no brainer show for me personally and easily the best show i’ve seen them put on as well as the bands mentioned above(well mostly). Saxon always put on the great live show and even if you aren’t a huge Heavy Metal fan, they are just a great band musically to see live. The energy, the history and the whole vibe that carries on through their performance spanning forty years of hard hitting music really is worth it. Even when the band throws candy into the crowd at the end as a little easter joke, it is just a funny memory that adds to a great evening of music.

Top 20 albums of 2017

20of2017

2017 was a fantastic year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music. Albums were released left and right this year and as much as I wanted to include every album I heard this year as they mostly had a good level of quality to them, I narrowed it down to twenty. At the bottom I give my short list of honorable mentions of albums you should still check out but here is my top twenty of 2017.

 

                                               1. Night Demon- Darkness Remains

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-What can I say that I haven’t already said about this album. This to me is as good as a traditional Heavy Metal album can be in 2017. The chemistry between Jarvis, Armand and Dusty cannot be understated and are a trio to be reckoned with.

                                                     2. Mythra- Still Burning

MYTHRA-Still-Burning-LP-LTD-BLACK

An album nearly forty years in the making and it delivers on all fronts. With Vince Highs rough rock n roll vocals still in tact and the instrumentation being very tight and memorable, this is a modern day NWOBHM classic.

                                         3. Night Flight Orchestra- Amber Galactic

Amber Galactic

This album was my biggest surprise of the year. This album takes the sound of 80’s FM radio AOR and makes a modern classic out of that sound. This was my ideal summertime album and doesn’t have one bad song on it.

                                                               4.Venom Inc- Ave

-For many the return of the real Venom. This album boasts two thirds of the original line up with Tony Dolan of the underrated “Prime Evil” line up. The album balances more modern heaviness with the more raw sound the band was known for at the start. An album that doesn’t disappoint on getting your old school Black Metal mix

                                                      5. Stallion- From The Dead

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Another modern day Traditional Heavy Metal album that has power and guts. Stallion took the sound from their first album and made it even better somehow. With more speed, progression and just an overall fun atmosphere, this is another album that should be in your stereo!

                                             6.Crystal Viper- Queen Of The Witches

crystal-viper

Another excellent Traditional Metal release this year with solid writing with heavy songs and more somber emotional takes as well. Also look for some very cool guest appearances as well!

                                                         7.Tytan- Justice Served!

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Another long awaited NWOBHM release is the sophomore effort by Tytan. A great fun album with a lot of high points that will leave fans of the band satisfied.

 

                                                                    8.Shokker-III

shokker-3Chicago’s own Shokkers first debut and its still a very hot release. The albums has a bit of old school and new school thrown in for a good fun experience. Fans of Y&T and that older Hard Rock style will appreciate this album.

 

                                                      9.Hexx- Wrath Of The Reaper

Wrath Of The Reaper

Hexx’s long awaited reunion album sort to speak. Alot of great songs are presented here and a very raw and lively production make this a must listen metal album.

 

                                      10.Jack Starr’s Burning Starr-Stand Your Ground

Jack starr

Jack Starrs Bunring Starr have returned with another fine release to add to their catalog of old school Power Metal. Featuring some nice surprises even with an old outtake of the legendary Rhett Forrester included in one of the songs.

 

TOP 11

11. DUEL- Witchbanger

12. Air Raid- Across The Line

13. Savage Master-Creature of the Flames

14. Tbunderstick- Something Wicked This Way Comes

15. Ignitor- Haunted By Rock N Roll

16. Road Rash- Thunder In Paradise

17. EVO- Warfare

18. Vulture- The Guillotine

19. Resistance- Metal Machine

20. Gravedigger- Healed By Metal

 

And finally, here are just some of my albums I couldnt fit on the list but definitely deserve to heard and recognized.

Satans Hallow- S/T

Sleazer- Fall Into Disgrace

Hellwell- Behind The Demon’s Eyes

Mothership- High Strangeness

 

And there are my top albums of the past year. It really was a great year for new artists and fresh releases from the old guard as well. Here’s to a just as good 2018!

Site update: End of year reviews, lists and plans for 2018…

With the holidays approaching or in some eyes already here, some have noticed a slow down on my site. Dont worry, im not hanging it up however yes I have been spending less time writing reviews and such more or less because of work and family and personal life that has been both positive and negative. However, I am here to basically give a little update on what exactly is coming soon here in the next coming months.

-I have a few reviews for the bands Resistance, Toxik, Road Rash and a double review of the Heaven and Hell Records releases of the Ask For  A Stranger and White Boy and Average Rat Band albums(that name will never not be a mouth full).

-I am already starting to work on my top 30 list for the year which could sprout into a top 50 but I am trying to make sure it is not but there were releases left and right this year so it will definitely be a big list.

-In terms of plans for next year i am going to do besides the normal reviews, two band retrospectives. One will be on the Heavy Load reissues as they come out and simultaneously I will be looking at every Riot album which could take up the whole year but I am going to try and make sure it doesn’t and only leads up to a possible new Riot V album(depending on when it is released, the reviews may not be in order).

-I want interviews to become a bigger factor here in 2018. I was only able to fit in two this year which is a shame and I hope to fit in more next year as well. Also, Legions of Metal will once again be a large article but a bit simplified and broken up into days as well as Frost and Fire 2018 if it happens and I am able to secure funds for it.

So far, that is what I have going for next year. A but ambitious but I am confident it will be worth it. Thank you for the support up to this point. With you guys the site will roll on.

Album Review: OZ- Transition State

 

I don’t think any album title this year pertains to a band quite like Finnish Heavy Metal act OZ’s new full length album “Transition State”. With the band essentially rising from the ashes after a reunion slowly fading away, Original drummer Mark Ruffneck brought together a whole brand new lineup for this album. Now as I’ve seen in the past, sometimes new blood can really ignite an older band with energy and possible more original ideas. We’ve seen this with bands like Diamond Head and Tygers of Pan Tang and damn good results come from them. So how about OZ?

With opening track “Bonecrusher”, The band hits hard with a very upbeat fist pounding track. The guitars have that same vintage-esque distortion that was present on early OZ albums with a higher production of course showing the band still has some of their original sound in tact. New vocalist Vince Kojvula definitely shows his worth on this track alone with a ferocious hard rock feel and some impressive high notes. The second track “Restless” continues the more traditional and catchy feel on the album. The chorus of this song is one of my favorites as well. “Heart of a Beast” definitely has a more Power Metal feel and is a bit of a different pace compared to the first two songs but is well written along with “Drag You To Hell” having a similar style. One of my favorite tracks on the album “The Witch” definitely has some of the most energetic segments on the album and some of the more infectious riffs present as well. The only issue I have with parts of the album is that it seems a bit inconsistent. It isn’t a major album ruiner but with Melodic more hard rocking songs mixed with full out heavy metal songs makes it unfortunately lose a bit of identity with the abundance of many ideas coming out on each song. Also, I found it strange how there was a bonus track inserted in the middle of the album I didn’t understand why it was exactly there instead of with the extra tracks on the tail end of the album. However, the tail end of the album does have it’s standouts like “In a Shadow of a Shotgun” and the more emotionally toned “The Mountain”. It is songs like these that show the album although a bit at a cross roads at what it exactly wants to be, is still a fun time to be had.

Overall, I give this album a solid 7.5 out of 10. Although it is nice to see OZ return in an energetic and fresh way, this album shows the band still gelling with new ideas balanced with the core sound that makes OZ still stand a part from the rest. As this is the bands first album with original songs since 1991, it is understandable that the album isn’t as solid as some had hope with some more generic songs unfortunately being toward the middle. However, with a few bumps the road becomes smooth again with some high energy and more monumental songs toward the end of the album that still show even though most are new faces, they are keeping the band alive and hopefully continue to do so.