Saturday, December 12, 2009
It was nearly one year ago that I witnessed Metallica destroy during the first leg of their Death Magnetic tour at the Forum. The scheduling gods were with me as I capped my Las Vegas run of The Cranberries at the Pearl and Morrissey at the Joint with a monstrous show of Metallica at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
I had to do some research on Volbeat. Hailing from Denmark, Volbeat reminded me of a metal tinged version of Social Distortion. It wasn't surprising that they asked the crowd if they liked Johnny Cash before rolling through one of their country tinged hard rock tunes. They played a decent set but did resort to covering a few notes of Slayer to get some cheers from the crowd. I guess you do whatever it takes to get the crowd ready.
Machinehead was loud and fired up. Robb Flynn (Vocals/Guitars) let the beers and riffs fly as he crushed through "Imperium" with his Gibson Flying "V". "Ten Ton Hammer" is still one of my favorite metal riffs that hits like a jackhammer to the chest as I could feel my feet being massaged by the subsonic bass frequencies. Robb explained how excited he was to play Las Vegas since he recently came to the Mandalay Bay Events center for a UFC match and now his band was rocking the arena.
"Now I Lay Thee Down" had both Robb and Phil Demmel (Guitars) come together for a blaze of fiery fretwork as both were two handed tapping a dueling solo near the end of the song. It was a shame Machinehead didn't have time to do more songs as they wrapped their set with "Halo" and the punishing "Davidian". It reminded me that I need to partake in a full Machinehead set soon.
In case you missed the memo, Metallica is back in full force. The tickets for this show sold out in minutes as it has been five years since Metallica has played Las Vegas. Lasers illuminated the rectangular stage as the members of Metallica lurked in the shadows moments prior to opening their set with "This Was Just Your Life" from the Rick Rubin produced album Death Magnetic.
"The End of The Line" was another thrash gem that tonally recalls the vintage "scooped mids" crunch that Metallica has patented. The crowd really went nuts when they hit the opening notes of "Ride The Lightning". James Hetfield (Vocals/Guitars) had eschewed his usual armory of trademark ESP guitars for a shiny golden Gibson Les Paul. I frantically paced the stage with Kirk Hammett (Guitars) when it came time for him to lay down the blistering wah drenched solo.
After "The Memory Remains", old school fans were delighted again with another Metallica classic "Fade To Black" which brought back memories of me sitting down trying to figure out the chords on my first guitar(a Fender Squier). Robert Trujillo (Bass) effortlessly slays every bass note with surgical precision as he methodically crept across the stage throughout the evening.
A double dose of Death Magnetic tracks, "Broken, Beat, and Scarred" and "Cyanide" gave way to the "D" tuning of "Sad But True" as the coffins above the stage descended once more. It was pyromania during "One" which immediately recalls their classic video which images extracted from the movie Johnny Got His Gun.
The pyrotechnics gave way to more insane laser action during the skull crushing riffs of "Master of Puppets". The machine that is Metallica kept destroying by launching more pyro for "Fight Fire With Fire" and then visiting the black album for "Nothing Else Matters" and the specially constructed for arena rock staple "Enter Sandman" to close out their main set.
Metallica continued to dig into the past with their staple cover of the Misfits "Die, Die My Darling" . Everyone started to act like a maniac during a furious rendition of "Whiplash". The house lights turned on to illuminate the crowd for a giant sing along to "Seek and Destroy". It is fitting that they ended their set with the song, as their next destination for destruction was Anaheim.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Friday, December 19, 2008
The year was 1986. I was too young to accompany my heavy metal worshipping brother to the Ozzy Osbourne/Metallica concert. My brother had scalped fourth row tickets and was excited to see Metallica with their insanely talented bassist Cliff Burton. Metallica was touring behind Master of Puppets and upstaging Ozzy on a nightly basis.
Another story in relation to Metallica was the hunt for a copy of the Metallica Kill 'em All cd with the two extra tracks of "Am I Evil?" and "Blitzkrieg" that was discontinued after a short run. I would eventually find the cd in New Hampshire after many years. Needless to say, I have been a Metallica fan for some time.
Metallica recently released Death Magnetic that revisits their thrash roots. Two sold out nights at the Forum proved that the legions of Metallica fans are still as strong as ever. Would Metallica still have the same fire they did back in the day?
Starting at a criminally early 6:58pm, The Sword unleashed their ferocious doom metal to a sparsely populated crowd at the Forum. Gods of The Earth is a roaring throwback to the good old days of headbanging metal. J. D. Cronise (Vocals/Guitars) was shattering eardrums with his Gibson Explorer running through an Orange and Laney Amplifier for distinctively British metal sound.
The Sword has been opening all of the dates on the Metallica tour and seemed comfortable in the open round setting as J.D. would switch back and forth between available microphone stands. I can't imagine how nervous they must feel opening for Metallica on a huge stage that seperates the band members. The Sword showed no signs of nervousness as they worked through a way too short six song set. Trivett Wingo (Drums) showed some support of the metal scene by wearing a Black Cobra shirt who I recently caught at Spaceland.
Originally I thought Lamb of God was going to be opening for Metallica but Machinehead got the nod instead. My brother thought he overheard that Lamb of God was banned from playing the Forum. It could also be due to the fact that they have songs titled "Walk With Me in Hell" and that the Forum is a church.
Machinehead was spectacular earlier this year when they opened for Hellyeah at the Grove in Anaheim. It wouldn't be far fetched to say Rob Flynn (Vocals/Guitars) was a big fan of Metallica since he hails from the bay area like Metallica. Machinehead also covered Metallica's "Battery" on the special edition of The Blackening.
Machinehead's latest album measures up to some of their earlier material like Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change with a return to their thrash roots. "Clenching The Fists" started of their pummeling set with Rob Flynn using his trusty Gibson Flying V emblazoned with a MH logo on the headstock. Dave McClain (Drums) was perched high above the round stage on a drum riser rocking out on his ddrums.
Machinehead pleased the old school metal fans with their Iron Maiden cover of "Hallowed Be Thy Name" as Phil Demmel (Guitars) and Rob traded off solos. The overall mix was slightly muddy but cleared up after a few songs and was deafening when Machine Head ended their set with a suffocating rendition of "Davidian".
Laser beams capable of cauterizing your optic nerve blasted through the air as Metallica took the stage. The ominous guitar riff of ""That Was Just Your Life" chugged as a flood light illuminated James Hetfield's (Vocals/Guitars) face. An assortment of coffin shaped lights would be lowered close to the stage as Metallica ripped through another new song "The End Of The Line" with Kirk Hammett playing his Dracula ESP Guitar.
The pits started to circle when Metallica dialed back the clocks for the classic thrash of "The Four Horsemen". Metallica seemed extremely tight and the crowd was salivating, ready for the onslaught. The hits kept coming as they ripped through "Ride The Lightning". The testosterone really started to swirl by the time Metallica unleashed "One" on the crowd.
"Broken, Beat And Scarred" and "Cyanide" kept the energy levels high as the crowd was familiar with the new material. I was impressed how well the new songs held up with the older material. James asked the crowd if they were ready for some medium heavy stuff as they lumbered through "Sad But True". "Wherever I May Roam" had Kirk crush his wah pedal for a ridiculously fast guitar solo that justifies his ranking as one of the elite metal guitar shredders.
"Master Of Puppets" was a highlight for me as I felt semi-vindicated for missing the tour all those years ago. The pyro went off during "Fight Fire With Fire" to remind those in attendance that this was a true arena metal show. Kirk added some subtle wah during the opening of "Enter Sandman" that drove the audience crazy. I couldn't help think that "Enter Sandman" has to be one of the top arena metal songs as everyone in the Forum was screaming.
Kirk teased the crowd with a few notes of "Am I Evil?" which prompted Lars to pound out the drums to "Raining Blood" as James and Robert Trujillo (Bass) laughed. Metallica would get down to business by racing through "Breadfan". The old school hits kept coming as they played "Motorbreath" and closed with "Seek and Destroy". It was fitting that they gave out Guitar Hero Metallica t-shirts on my way out of the Forum. After seeing the perfectly executed palm muted power chords and flashy guitar solos, I have better chances of sounding like Metallica in a video game.
Metallica Setlist at the Forum (12/18/08)
"That Was Just Your Life"
"The End Of The Line"
"The Four Horsemen"
"Ride The Lightning"
"Broken, Beat And Scarred"
"Sad But True"
"Wherever I May Roam"
"All Nightmare Long"
"The Day That Never Comes"
"Master Of Puppets"
"Fight Fire With Fire"
"Nothing Else Matters"
"Am I Evil"/"Raining Blood"(tease)
"Seek and Destroy"
Saturday, March 01, 2008
My heavy metal loving brother doesn't go to many concerts anymore but manages to sneak out once in awhile. He managed to catch Hellyeah during an east coast tour stop and mentioned that it is an absolute must see show. Hellyeah brought along with them some great support from Bury Your Dead, Nonpoint and Machinehead for an all out metal show.
I have been a fan of Nonpoint since their first album as it was spiked with influences of Quicksand and Helmet. I remember catching one of their shows at the now defunct Galaxy theater many years ago. I completely forgot how intense Nonpoint is live. Elias Soriano (Vocals) was a madman with his dreadlocks whipping around as they ripped into "March Of War" from their latest album "Vengeance". I also have to give points to Robb Rivera (Drums) with his stuffed "Animal" from the Muppets adorning his drum kit. Nonpoint made the most of their brief time on stage as they made quick work of "The Truth" from the album Recoil. "What A Day" really got the crowd going as Andrew Goldman (Guitars) was stomping on his plastic covered pedalboard. "In The Air Tonight" from the Miami Vice soundtrack was also well received with Andrew adding some extra flanging effects to the song. Nonpoint's set was all too brief as I wanted to hear "Circles" from their second album Development but will have to catch them again.
I can't believe it has been a year since I saw Machinehead at the Grove in Anaheim. Machinehead are one of the top thrash metal bands around with Rob Flynn (Guitars/Vocals) leading the way. I am still jealous that my brother saw Machinehead at the Showcase Theater in Corona with some band called System of A Down back in the early 1990's. Machinehead devastated from the beginning by opening with "Imperium" from their album "Through The Ashes of The Empires". "Now I Lay Thee Down" was another lesson in punishment as Rob's fingers were blazing on his Gibson Flying V. The crowd went completely unhinged when they played "Ten Ton Hammer" from the classic album "The More Things Change...". "Ten Ton Hammer" has to be one of the top 20 brutal riffs of all time as you feel every low note rattle your skull. Dave McClain (Drums) did a phenomenal job of obliterating his custom ddrum kit emblazoned with the Blackening album cover art. Rob was feeling good as he would toss beers out into the crowd. It was no surprise that their pedalboards were covered with plastic to protect from any beer spillage. Machinehead closed out their set with an insane rendition of "Davidian" that had me shake my head with disbelief as I witnessed the dual guitar solos from Rob and Phil Demmel (Guitars). Machinehead had successfully conquered the Anaheim audience.
The chants of Hellyeah soon filled the Grove as the lights dimmed. Hellyeah is a super group of epic scale in that it contains members of Mudvayne, Damageplan, and Nothingface. I have long been a fan of Mudvayne since their first album and I think Chad Grey (Vocals) has one of the top voices in metal. Greg Tribbett (Guitars) is an insane riff god that pulls off some mind melting riffs and time changes. Vinnie Paul (Drums) is a living drumming legend with his work in Pantera. Tom Maxwell (Guitars) did some shredding with the band Nothingface as Bob Zilla (Bass) has played with Vinnie Paul in Damageplan. The sum of all this talent is combined to form Hellyeah.
When the giant Hellyeah logo lit up, the crowd proceeded to go insane. The rock show had begun as they tore up the audience with "Matter Of Time" that showcased the insane riffage from Greg while Vinnie Paul punched you in the face with his double bass drum assault. "GodDamn" sounds exactly like a combination of Pantera and Mudvayne with its jarring guitars and Vinnie Paul's characteristic drum work. Chad would later thank the audience for coming and mentioned how their rock show provides therapy for all those in attendance as they can scream and make as much noise as they want. The crowd happily obliged as they played a devastating cover of "Stone Cold Crazy" that had a group of metalheads next to me enthusiastically state that it was "better than Metallica!". The chants from the crowd were mixed between "Vinnie Paul" and "Hellyeah".
"Raging War" was prefaced by a somber speech and praise by Chad to all the men and women serving in the armed forces as Hellyeah launched into their own assault. "Thank You" was a slow burner with Greg using his Weeping Demon Ibanez wah for added color. "Alcohauling Ass" was a demonic country tinged metal jam that shows that Chad can really sing in case you had any doubts. The crowd held up their lighters and cell phones to help enhance the mood of the song and to put on the official seal that you have just attended a metal show. "HELLYEAH" was a perfect ending to the concert as the band had managed to play its entire album. All of the bands from the evening would later gather on stage for a group shot to celebrate the end of their tour. When asked by my friends if I would see them I again, I can only answer....HELLYEAH!