Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tankcrimes Brainsqueeze #2 Day 2 Review

    Spanning over three days, the Tankcrimes Brainsqueeze looked to deliver great live musical acts, tons of appealing punk/metal merchandise and most importantly, bring all of us crazy Tankcrimes loving fans together. I had the opportunity to attend the second day of the festival. The lineup for the night included Conquest For Death, Kicker, The Shrine, Impaled, Fucked Up, Negative Approach, and the insane party thrashing headliners, Municipal Waste. 
    Upon arriving at the Oakland Metropolitan Opera House an hour before the show, I noticed that the punk and metal fans were already waiting outside for the doors to open. As I made my way to the line, I could tell that the crowd was getting restless and wanted to get inside. When the doors finally opened, I like so many other fans, rushed to the front of the stage hoping to get an optimal spot. Throughout the night I would be bounced around, but I remained relatively close to the stage.
    The first band to begin day two of the Tankcrimes Brainsqueeze was Conquest For Death. This group of enthusiastic hardcore punk musicians never stopped moving. Their energy helped get the crowd going right away. The band’s lead singer would do insane jumps and hand stands while screaming into his mic. He even climbed one of the speakers to the top railing of the stage and started swinging one the rail like he was a circus performer. Overall the band’s set was a shot pure adrenaline driven hardcore punk that set the tone for what was to be a rip roaring, and face ripping night.
    Local Oakland hardcore punk veterans Kicker were the second band to take the stage. Their singer Pete “the roadie” not only sang, but he worked security for the Metro before and after the show. His work ethic was very impressionable and showed his dedication to the music that he enjoys. The band started their set off with the instrumental, “Kick Off.” Once the song finished Pete burst out on stage delivering his unapologetic hardcore punk front man style. The band played mostly songs from their Tankcrimes release, Not You, along with some new material. I really enjoyed banging my head and raising my fist to songs like “Broke” and “Insufficient Funds.” The whole band played great and their many years of punk rock experience helps give them a solid live sound.
    Third up on the bill was an up and coming act called, The Shrine. This would be the first time I was to hear anything from this group, and I must say I was not disappointed. They are a bit more seventies hard rock meets punk than the straight forward hardcore style that the first two bands played. The Shrine’s guitarist could lay down some crunch distortion filled riffs and then shred away with a long solo. Another part I liked about the band was their solid rhythm section. The drummer and bassist created these mountain sized Sabbath like rhythms for the guitarist to explore over when he unleashed a solo. Definitely a band that offered some variety to the festival, which I think the crowd did not seem to mind.
    Now the fourth band, Impaled, was one of the main reasons why I decided to come to day two of the festival. The death grind immoral medical practitioners are one of my favorite Bay Area metal bands. When they hit the stage I completely lost my sense of awareness and started head banging and growling along. Eventually I would find myself on the opposite side of the venue where I was when the band started their set. They ferociously tore into classic Impaled songs like “Bloodbath,” “Spirits of the Dead” and “Flesh and Blood.” I will say that as much as I enjoyed Impaled’s set I was a little disappointed with Impaled's onstage presentation. They forgot to wear their doctor’s outfits and dressed like a group bums who just walked off the Oakland streets. One highlight during their set was when the sound guy for the Oakland Metro was messing with Ross Sewage’s microphone by turning on an echo effect. Ross went along with the joke and in retaliation kept flipping the guy off.
    After Impaled’s set I decided to take advantage of the free water cooler located behind the stage, and rest a bit to save up my energy for the next three bands. Fucked Up hit the stage soon after I finished my little break near the cooler. They played a nontraditional style of extremely loud and long hardcore punk music. To help achieve this truly bombastic sound the band had three guitarists on stage! Fucked Up’s singer demonstrated great stage presence by swinging the mic around and offering colorful banter between each song. I felt like their songs dragged on a bit too long, and could have been condensed. Overall, I was amused by the singer’s behavior on stage during each song.
    Negative Approach was definitely one of the night’s most anticipated acts. Legends of the eighties hardcore scene, the guys in Negative Approach showed how they can still play some extreme music. The crowd became possessed once the band hit the stage and tore into the first blazing hardcore song. There was a decent amount of stage diving going on during their set for sure. Ever other verse I swear someone was jumping off of the stage! Hearing that classic material from, Tied Down, played live is something I am glad to have experienced. They are not slowing down one bit, and they sound just as raw and aggressive as they did on that first album.
    To conclude the glorious Tankcrimes Brainsqueeze Day 2 was Richmond, Virginia’s Municipal Waste. I think the crowd was starting to get tired after all the other band’s sets, but once the Waste turned on their instruments the chaotic partying began. The guys in Municipal Waste seemed very energetic and loose (I’m sure they were pounding down plenty of beers before their set). They played a good amount of my favorites like, “Wrong Answer,” “Terror Shark,” “Fatal Feast” and “Unleash the Bastards.” I would say they incorporated a good variety of different songs from each album. Also, singer Tony was his usual colorful self and addressed the crowd with plenty of sarcastic humor. Municipal Waste was without question the perfect band to finish off the night.
    I feel safe to say that the Tankcrimes Brainsqueeze was one of the best music festivals I have attended. All the bands were great and the whole event put on by Tankcrimes and Oakland Metro did not disappoint. Scotty is a man who really cares about the music community that he is a part of whether it be through his music label, or through the live shows he sets up. There are not too many people like Scotty Heath around in the music business today, and hopefully the Tankcrimes Brainsqueeze tradition continues for many years to come.
Photo 1-Impaled
Photo 2-Kicker 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: Manilla Road "Mystification"

Band: Manilla Road
Album: Mystification


    Manilla Road’s sixth release, “Mystification,” definitely marks the band’s venture into more intense and aggressive sounding waters. The mix of classic metal style compositions with relentless thrash riffs allows the songs on this album to really standout. Main man Mark Shelton impresses with dark well crafted tracks that sound very haunting. The lyrical themes on, “Mystification,” reference plenty of classic horror tales and films to paint vivid imagery for the listeners to wrap their disturbed minds around. Manilla Road carefully constructs the lyrics to match up with the each song’s unique dark sound that perfectly captures the essence of haunting metal music. I must say, the musicianship on this album is consistently firing at all cylinders. Blistering lead guitar parts scream out with a raw old school tone that you just don’t hear anymore. The drums and bass construct solid rapid rhythms with certain moments of sinister sounding Sabbath like parts. For a three piece they sure do create plenty of huge sounding tracks that pack a powerful punch.
    The album begins with a very simple fast paced classic metal sounding piece called, “Haunted Palace.” To accompany the aggressive driving music are some chilling vocals. Manilla Road does a solid job presenting the song while maintaining a tight sound. Not one note sounds out of place on the entire track. Track two, “Spirits of the Dead,” conveys a more doom like vibe, but still delivers the pure thrash aggression. There are a few other songs on this album that mix doom with thrash to offer up a true sinister sounding blend of music.
    Track three, “Valley of Unrest,” begins with a wicked lightening fast riff. Out of the all the riffs on this album, I would say it was the one that made my head spin. Now, the title track is probably the most traditional sounding track on this album, and is just a well written song. I am drawn into this spooky sounding musical world that puts me into a dream like trance through the entire song.
    Manilla road decides about half way through album to jump right back into the fire with the blazing track, “Masque of Red Death.” The song has a sharp unforgiving sound that reminds me a lot of early Slayer and Venom. Also, the raw production value strengthens the band’s evil sounding delivery. The following song, “Up from the Crypt,” continues the more thrash based sound with a chaotic presentation. Strings scream out in anguish when bent and the shredding is just out of this world. This is probably the first song where the guitarist just took off into complete shredding madness and didn’t look back. “Children of the Night” sounds a bit like the two previous tracks with the more thrash based sound and it begins to get repetitive in certain parts.
    The final two tracks “Dragon Night” and “Death by the Hammer” return to a more balanced classic metal style meets pure old school thrash style. I really like the overall doom filled sound on, “Dragon Night,” and it is another well written metal track. “Death By the Hammer,” takes on certain qualities of Diamond Head’s sound, especially that aggressive galloping sound.
    Overall Manilla Road finds a way to really leave their own creative metal musical mark with, “Mystification.” I think this is a solid release that conveys the sinister blend of classic metal meets thrash. This album is being released via Shadow Kingdom Records, and features the original mastering, recording and song order. Glad to see Shadow Kingdom digging up a haunting release and giving fans a chance to here the raw original sound created by the one and only Manilla Road.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Coms 210 Assignment #5: Kiss Controversy Continues...

Kiss Controversy Continues...

    In the last month if were to check out any hard rock or metal website, you probably saw an article about Kiss. Unfortunately, the article was most likely not about the original four members hanging out and settling their differences.
    Ever since the Rock and Roll Hall of Losers decided to wake up and finally induct the once hottest band in the world, the original four members have decided to resort back to their childish playground behavior ways. Paul and Gene usually say something in an interview to upset Ace and Peter, and a day or two later Ace and Peter respond with a punchy statement. These dudes are in their sixties, but act like a pack of junior High School girls!
    This week’s comments, made by Paul Stanley in an article put out by the New York Post, have me questioning whether or not to throw out some of my Kiss merchandise. In the article, Paul claims that Peter and Ace are anti-Semitic and were jealous that Gene and Paul could write better songs. One quote that made me fall out of my chair was when Paul made a claim that I usually here from crazy conspiracy theorists.
    Paul said, “Ace and particularly Peter felt powerless and impotent when faced with the tireless focus, drive and ambition of me and Gene,” and to follow that up statement up with, “As a result, the two of them tried to sabotage the band — which, as they saw it, was unfairly manipulated by [us] money-grubbing Jews.”
    Okay Mr. Stanley, I may have not been their to witness this supposed anti-Semitic behavior, but I am damn sure Ace and Peter did not suffer addiction problems just because you and Gene are Jewish. The whole claim that since they could not write songs they decided to focus on ruining the band is a complete joke. Ace wrote some kick ass songs like “Cold Gin,” “Shock Me,” “Talk to Me” and had the best of the four 1978 Kiss solo albums. Peter Criss sings on, “Beth,” Kiss’ first top ten charting song. Now, there has been some claims that Peter did not really write that much for Beth, but still, he was a big part of that song so he deserves credit. I think Paul might be the jealous one, or insecure one for that fact.
    Now going back to the anti-Semitic claims, I do not believe Ace and Peter are true “anti-Semites.” If they had been, why would they have wanted to be in the band to begin with?! Also, there is no real necessary reason for Paul to make those claims unless to stir up controversy. I really wish media organizations would stop interview Kiss members, because every stupid comment gets reported to death by all the rock and metal websites.
    I will admit that the New York Post article offered some interesting information about Paul’s past. It sounded like the guy had a hard time growing up, and rock music was an escape. Now, if only he didn’t have to go on the Ace and Peter attack mode, I would have probably enjoy reading the article.
    My hope is that after the Rock and Roll Hall of Jerks induction ceremony, Kiss will go off on their summer tour and I won’t have to hear about two ex-band members being accused of trying to ruin the band due to the fact the other two guys were Jewish. I recommend checking out the entire article below because there are more interesting claims made by Paul. Well, can’t wait to hear Peter’s article response soon...Not!
link to NYPost article

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Battleroar, "Blood of Legends"

Band: Battleroar
Album: Blood of Legends    

    Ancient Greece, an impressive civilization that still fascinates many people today. The Ancient Greeks offered many contributions to the world with their advancements in technology, science and philosophical ideals. Sometimes listening to a boring old history professor doesn’t do it, so why not have a metal band teach us something about Greek History.
    The Athens based group, Battleroar, gives descriptive accounts of Greek Mythology in their lyrics while offering up some crushing metal jams. Their style is very triumphant sounding and definitely takes on certain qualities of classic Power Metal such as Helloween, Rhapsody and Nightwish. Blood of Legends, the band’s fourth full-length album, is an epic tale of metal mayhem and fist raising anthems. To create an ancient, and truly epic feel to the music, the band incorporates violins accompanied by grand uplifting classical arrangements.
    The first track on this album, “Stormgiven,” is a calming acoustic and violin piece that moves like the waves crashing against the Greek coast as storm clouds slowly move towards the mainland. Track two, “The Swords are Drawn,” is where the band introduces their epic Power Metal style with a fearless driving sound. The chugging guitar riff attacks like an army of soldiers rushing into battle while the drummer lays down the thunder with loud crushing rhythms. I personally enjoy the vocal style used by Battleroar’s lead singer because he is not trying to sound over the top like most Power Metal singers. He does not try to hit the unnecessary high notes or scream randomly to match the guitar’s tone.
    The next two songs, “Poisoned Well” and “Blood of Legends,” are very descriptive, and well composed pieces. Battleroar lets the lyrics naturally unfold into the musical landscapes with a sense of purpose. Also, I notice more expression from each individual musician like with the solo on, “Blood of Legends.” The guitarist offers up an impressive solo that is not too flashy and does not take away from the harmonious sounding balance that the song establishes right from the start. “Immortal Chariot” is another example of a complete well put together song that does not sound out of sync. The music drives with consistency and pure aggression, and that is all you really need to make a good metal song.
    Now, a track that really captured my attention was the song called, “The Curse of Medea.” This song begins with a sinister lead guitar introduction that is melodic yet very haunting. The singer tells a vengeful tale of a woman driven by madness and revenge.  His vocal tone perfectly matches the song’s pure evil attitude. Also, instead of creating a fast driving rhythm, the band slows down the tempo for a more raw doom like sound. This deviation definitely makes the song standout from the rest on this album.
    The song, “Valkyries Above Us,” falls back in line with the more uplifting triumphant songs that start the album off. Once the chorus began I felt this rush of emotion go through my body and could imagine myself sanding upon a grassy field right after a battle ends. The words are perfectly strung together to create strong uplifting emotions. The guitar riffs also give the song an extra kick in the triumphant department when needed. “Chivalry,” is another song on the album with powerful energy surging riffs and intense booming rhythms.
    The last couple tracks, “Exile Eternal” and “Relentless Waves” finish this album off on a solemn note, but still holds onto this uplifting side that never seems to fade away. Battleroar unleashes their final all out musical attack with, “Exile Eternal,” and the lyrics offer closure to an album full of excitement. Once the last track begins with the sounds of calm ocean waves, I feel like I am floating away on a ship after a long eventful journey.
    No matter if you are not a fan of this style of metal, I think the way that Battleroar composes this album will keep you engaged the whole way through. Their detailed accounts of Greek history/mythology mixed with their triumphant style of metal simply does not disappoint. I appreciate this band’s style of song writing and respect them for not trying to sound insanely technical, or too experimental. Battleroar’s, Blood of Legends, is must listen for any metal fans looking to hear a well crafted album that lifts the spirits up high to where the gods live.