metallica hardwired
Metallica

 

Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

 

Blackened Records

 

10 out of 10

 

Review by: Slim Jim Keller

 

 

Ok, now that they hype and bullshit has died down, let’s talk about Metallica’s new album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct.

I’m always hopeful when Metallica finally gets around to releasing a new album. Having followed them since 1983, I have a lot of time, effort, money, and blood sweat and tears invested in this band. And when you only get an album every 8 years… well, the anticipation and expectation builds up to ridiculously high levels.

Listen, I loved Load and Reload, I think there’s some great songs on St. Anger, and some seriously heavy as fuck riffs buried in the bloated songs and shitball production. Lulu is and always will be Lulu, that is a Lou Reed album. Take the vocals out and you can jam the fuck out to some good riffs and song writing there too. Try it, it might just surprise you.

So now that you know where I am coming from let’s talk Hardwired

We all heard the lead off song, Hardwired long before the album came out… and the hype machine began to crank up. ‘The best of Metallica since ‘Puppets’ ‘ ‘A return to the classic Metallica sound.’ Blah Blah Blah. Bullshit and bovine farts.

You can’t go back to Puppets. The band can’t go back to Puppets. And really, who wants them to? Who really truly wants Master of Puppets VOL 2? Not me. I simply want a great album full of ferocious riffs, great song writing and a production value I can listen to over and over again.

And that my friends, is where we start here. Death Magnetic housed many great songs blown out by the shitty mastering. The album suffered for it, the audience suffered for it and as much as it was a massive improvement from St. Anger’s production, it still sucked. If I want my album to be loud, I’ll turn the fucking volume up. I don’t need the album mastering to be so jacked up the song clips within itself before I ever touch the volume.

The band then released Moth Into Flame and the world shook. Holy sweet Jesus titties the main riff running through this song flows faster than a motorhead’s bloody crank filled nose. This was no rehash of Puppets, Lightning or Justice, this was the biggest metal band in the world once again planting their flag in the sand with all 8 middle fingers waving at everyone who ever doubted that they could actually write ‘heavy’ again. A giant ‘Fuck You’ to everyone who said they were washed up, they weren’t metal, they were has-beens. And they weren’t even close to being finished.

The last single to drop before the album came out was Atlas, Rise! Which was a true to modern form Metallica song. No disrespect to the song, it is solid, it has riffs, it kicks mucho ass, but I think Moth Into Flame made a much better impact and message.

Finally we got the album, and much was written about the ‘return’ of Metallica. Obviously nobody has been paying attention to the band the last 8 years. The movie, the tours, the special shows, etc. The band never left, hell, they have only released 4 albums in the last 19 years. Let’s get serious here. This isn’t a band that releases an album, tours for a year, records for a year, wash, rinse, repeat. The older they get, the longer it takes to get music from them, and it is painfully slow I agree. But when they drop such solid gems as Death Magnetic and Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, it almost makes up for the 8 years sans new Metallica music.

I’ve been asked repeatedly what my favorite cut off the album is and why. And I’m here to tell you I have no idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to the album. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to certain songs over and over again. It would be easier for me to just tell you what sticks out to me as I listen to it.

The aforementioned Hardwired kicks off the album, and gives way to Atlas, Rise!. We’ve all heard those, but then we’re given the mid-tempo Now That We’re Dead with its open throttled bass line and precision (YES I SAID PRECISION) drum line and fills as the intro to the song spreads out over a minute and a half.

From there we’re blasted into oblivion by Moth Into Flame.

Dream No More may… MAY… be my favorite track on this album. That is until I hear Halo On Fire. Remember when I said we can’t go back to Puppets? Well, I meant it, but we CAN go back to Load/Reload apparently, because this track, Dream No More, would fit right into either album quite well and not feel out of place at all. A combination of the swinging main riff and the vocals and effects on the vocal harken back to the Load/Reload era. But it is none the less a kick ass song. And as I said… It may be my favorite song on the album… Until the next song plays.

Which brings us to Halo On Fire. The opening sounds like something off the last 10 Megadeth albums, and then it falls into a ‘Day That Never Comes’ feel as the vocals begin. But the chorus, the cry, the music, the build, the feel, James’ voice, all coalesce into something that can only be described as Halo On Fire. And this may be my favorite song on the album. Until the next song begins.


I will say, after several listens I think the one drawback I have has become James’ voice. There are a few different tones here, and a couple of songs with different effects on his vocals to switch it up a bit. But overall the older he gets, the weaker the voice gets (Duh, I know it’s that way with everyone), but it also narrows more and more so that despite the different tempos, arrangements, etc on the various songs, they all kind of sound alike because of his vocals.

The other stand outs (possible favorite songs) are Here Comes Revenge, Am I Savage? And the band’s tribute to Lemmy on Murder One.

The closing track on the album, Spit Out The Bone is a high-speed metal masterwork. Drum solos, bass solos, guitar solos, it has it all, and it isn’t even an instrumental. But it shows the band in all their 50 year old glory getting their ya ya’s off as only Metallica can. And it might be my favorite song on the album, until I go back to the beginning and spin it all over again…

This, ladies and gentlemen, will probably rest high on top of my Best of 2016 list which will be out in a couple weeks. I still have to spend a couple hours with the Childish Gambino’s new album and see what the fuss is there.

I think Cherri said it best, if you were a fan, if you are a fan, or if you’ve never sat down and really listened to Metallica, then this is the modern masterpiece you all deserve.

 

 

 

night ranger 35 years
NIGHT RANGER

 

35 Years and a Night in Chicago

 

Frontiers Music s.r.l

 

4 out of 10

 

Review by: Slim Jim Keller

 

So I really enjoyed Night Ranger back in the day. Their first couple of albums were really good until they went all poppy and shit.
So when they were coming out with a new DVD (seeing as how they don't tour for shit and I've never seen them live), I was excited to see/hear it.
Sadly, whomever directed/shot it is a nippledick. I don't care about the audience, I don't want to watch the concert through someone's phone. I don't want all red lights. I don't want the shitty angles, the shitty shots from the audience, I want to feel like I am there, but your shooting and editing skills are for shit. Jack Blade's voice isn't quite what it was, but it's even with that it is still good... Musically Brad Gillis can still tear it up (well as much as Night Ranger ever shredded... laughs) and the band sounds really good.
But visually this is such a shittily recorded concert....
 
Save your money... go back and listen to the original two albums and enjoy them.Or just pick up the CD of this concert. I can see enjoying the music, but save yourself from the video. You'll thank me later.
 
There is no saving grace here.
 
 
 
 

whiskey myers mudWhiskey Myers

 

Mud

 

Wiggy Thump Records

 

10 out of 10

 

Review by: Slim Jim Keller

 

 

You ever hear a song, or two, or a whole album and picture the songs playing out as a soundtrack in your head?


Have you ever seen the TV shows Justified or Sons Of Anarchy? Have you ever heard Whiskey Myers? Have you ever seen/heard a better soundtrack to a TV show that no longer exists than their new album Mud?


There is nothing on television right now to my knowledge that would serve a better picture pallet to the musical landscape that is Whiskey Myers’ new album, Mud.

I must be on some kind of swamp music kick as of late. Everything I pick to listen to is deep fried deep south, swampy-boogie woggie-feet stompin’ rock and roll. And Whiskey Myers tops the list currently.

 

Never heard of them? Well I hadn’t either until I went to see the 2016 Carnival Of Madness Tour with Shinedown, Halestorm, Black Stone Cherry, and Whiskey Myers. With Whiskey Myers being the break out band from that show. Having never heard of them before and watching them tear through their set with a moonshine fueled abandon, I went home and immediately bought their catalog while waiting for Mud to be released.

 

I’ve sat on this album for three weeks now. And it just keeps getting stronger and stronger to me. From songs I thought were a little too weak the first listen through (Trailer That We Call Home), that has become one of the strongest songs on the album, to the title track, the opening cut On The River, Some of your Love, to the deep southern fried Frogman, and the anthematic Hank, the album just gets better with each subsequent listen.

My first mistake was having this on, low, one night while working, as background music. I was a little disappointed in the dynamics of the songs, the lack of… energy noticed in previous albums, but then I put it in a couple days later and cranked it up, and there it was… the Hammond B, a fiddle here and there, the deep soulful lyrics of desperation, hill country livin’, country pride, and hard livin and lovin’.

Fans of Blackberry Smoke, Black Stone Cherry, and Country Rock (is that a thing??) should pick this (or any Whiskey Myers album) up now!

 

 

 

TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION

SHAMAN'S HARVEST

2016-09-22

Dirty Dog Bar

Austin, TX

Show Review by: Slim Jim Keller

 

I had a random Thursday night off last week so I hit up Texas Hippie Coalition’s label to see if I could get a photo pass at the last minute and sure enough they came through in a pinch for me.


So I headed to downtown Austin and the infamous Dirty Dog Bar to take in the sights and sounds of Texas Hippie Coalition and Shaman’s Harvest.

I’d heard Dangerous from Shaman’s Harvest a few times on Sirius/XM’s Octane channel and it was an ok tune. I wasn’t expecting much from them when I walked in the place but figured if nothing else I could get my camera dialed in properly for a club with next to no lights in it.


2016 09 22 Shamans Harvest 0000
Boy was I surprised when the band took the stage and set a low grade smoldering fire to the joint. The band stepped up and  started jamming this slow swampy groove that just slow burned throughout the set. With each song the band stoked the fire a bit more until by the end of Shaman’s Harvest's set the roof was on fire, the crowd was soaked in sweat, and the band exploded in a crescendo of fire, sparks, embers, and fat swampy licks.


If you’ve heard Shaman’s Harvest on the radio, or streamed them online, you’re missing the key ingredient that puts Shaman’s Harvest over the top and far exceeds their studio efforts. Their live show is where Shaman’s Harvest shines. With a bluesy swagger that is steeped in a groove heavy southern bog, the band rips and plunders through their set like a man fighting his way out of the Louisiana swamps.


Throughout their set I kept picturing a blacksmith stoking his fires, slowly pumping his bellows as the coals begin to glow red hot. Eventually a flame licks the tip of the iron, and slowly but surely the fire begins to consume the coals and heat the iron until it is malleable enough to begin to pound into shape or bend to the blacksmith’s will. That is Shaman’s Harvest live. Nathan Hunt, the blacksmith, stoking the coals with his voice, the band, Josh Hamler, Matt Fisher, Derrick Shipp, and Adam Zemanek providing the bellows with their instruments and energy on stage. As the set progresses, more oxygen from the bellows and manipulations by the blacksmith, and the crowd becomes one big sweaty malleable molten iron that the band deftly molds, bends, and strikes until they are all swaying and singing in unison.

 

And then came the Texas Hippie Coalition
Big Dad Ritch and company took the stage and in short order made sure everyone knew that they were there to take no prisoners. Texas Hippie Coalition is your straight forward balls out Modern Day AC/DC dirty boy Rock & Roll. Led by a motherfucking mountain of a man in Big Dad Ritch, who is quick to let you know that if you don’t remember his name, just ask your mom because she was screaming it last night.

Outside of the song dedicated/inspired by Dime Bag Derrell (Hit It Again) the music is a Texan version of AC/DC with a generous ‘getcha pull’ of Pantera poured down it’s gullet.

Sex, Drugs, R&R, and everything a good Texan is pissed off about and you have Texas Hippie Coalition.2016 09 22 Texas hippie Coalition 0994

The band tore through 8 years of songs and gave the crowd everything they wanted and more.
Big Dad Ritch is quite the frontman (and by his own admission, quite high Thursday night… which, considering the bands initials are THC is a given, but even he said he was way too high that night) and told many a tale between songs keeping the crowd entertained and laughing while waiting for the band to get ready for the next song.

THC is one of those bands that you may not have heard of, but when they start playing, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I know I’ve heard this song before’.
If you’re big on Texas, big on swagger, big on THC, and big on balls out Rock & Roll, then Texas Hippie Coalition is going to go down like a big ol’ bong rip for you, and they’ll definitely go down on your sister.

 

You can see my photos of Shaman's Harvest HERE.

And

You can see my photos of Texas Hippie Coalition HERE.

 

 

 

2016 01 30 Grace Potter 9
Grace Potter

2016-01-30

Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theatre

Austin, TX

Show Review by: Slim Jim Keller

 

 

I consider myself lucky to have been able to see Grace Potter before she was a theater headliner. Having watcherd her open for Gov’t Mule and in a club here and there it has been quite a journey of musicianship and stage presence.

This was the second time I’ve had the privilege of seeing her headline, and if the show Saturday night is any indication she has honed her stage show and music into a finely tuned craft that she should be performing in front of 30,000 people now, not 3,000. But such is the state of the music industry, and that is a topic for another time.

Playing music that spans her entire catalog, giving us a taste of rock, a touch of funk, a heaping helping of soul, sprinkled with more psychedelica then I’ve ever heard on her albums, her music live runs and rolls through all the above deftly and segues smoothly from genre to mashed genre with interludes that allowed her band to explore a more colorful landscape of music that one can only hope will begin to show even more in her next album.

There were times where I wondered if she were dabbling with the psychedelica personally during the show, and then the lights and music would hit, and I found myself wondering if maybe it was me that was tripping balls that night. The music acentuated by the lights were that intense.

Grace plays the stage roll of pixyish ingénue, to pop princess, to acid queen, crooner, to straight out rock and roll chick with her Flying V guitar strapped over her shoulder as each song rolls off her tongue and from her fingers. She definitely is a woman of many flavors and colors, and her stage presence and wardrobe definitely demonstrate it. From her entrance with a multi-plumed fringe top to her glitterific shorts, her skin tight dress, to her closing numbers top and skirt, her wardrobe played as much into the show with her shawls, and scarves, her boas, and capes reminds one of the great Stevie Nicks and while it may be an homage, it also just feels as if Grace is up there just having a good time and having a good time in between and from song to song.

The highlight of the night had to be Turntable. When Grace and her band blasted out a heated and erotic version of the song that puts the PG version on her album to shame. Her beguiling playful nature in the lyrics were belied by her rocking and rollicking all over the stage. At one point the band breaks down the song, going into a deep funk tempo as she writhes like a woman possessed on the stage taking her wrap and binding her wrists as she moans into the mic on the floor, ‘I will be your record, and you can be my turntable’.

The crowd was also rapturous over Low Road, a song Grace said was written about an experience she had 10 years ago here in Austin.

Her band, no longer named the Nocturnals, are a musical entity to behold. They are the main reason that she is so adept at flowing from style to style. Featuring the guitar work of who knows because I can’t find ANY information anywhere, on any site, about her live band, who I assume by those that performed on her album (which I also can’t get 100% confirmation on) are most of the Nocturnals. She introduced the band, but I didn’t realize at the time that I was going to have write it down because there is no information anywhere that I can find to flush out this review properly.

Suffice to say, they’re really good, the lead guitarist, whose birthday was Saturday night was electric and fun to watch and listen to. And the keyboardist, second guitarist tore up the keys and laid down his own thick riffs at times.

As I said at the top of the review, I sat there in the crowd and kept thinking what a shame it was that we weren’t in an arena and there weren’t 30,000 people there cheering Grace Potter and her band on and dancing in pure abandon and bliss.

Hopefully, Grace will become a household name. Hopefully you’ll get the chance to see her perform near you. Hopefully one day, we’ll all be headed to a stadium to see Grace and her band perform as headliners!

Until then, we’ve got wonderful theaters like the Moody here in Austin that we can catch her magic at.

You’d be doing yourself a grave disservice if you were to miss Grace when she comes round your part of this funky planet. Give yourself a special treat, and take yourself out and experience the mystical magical Midnight Tour.

You’ll thank me later.

SJK

 

You can see more Grace Potter photos from the show RIGHT HERE.

 

2016 01 30 Grace Potter 9605

 

 

just joe live at the lost horizon
JUST JOE

 

Live at the Lost Horizon

 

Joe Altier

 

9.999999999 out of 10

 

 

 

I try not to review Best Of albums and Live albums (best of just in front of an audience) but when something as powerful as Just Joe’s Live at the Lost Horizon comes across my desk it is impossible to ignore and imperative that I let as many people know as possible how utterly amazing this disc is.

Joe Altier is the former voice of Brand New Sin and the current vocalist for Elephant Mountain as well as his solo project, Just Joe. The man has a voice like no other and Live at the Lost Horizon’s reworking of some of his most famous works shows just how powerful and evocative his voice is.

The disc/show opens with a reworked Sad Wings from the self titled Brand New Sin debut album. Slow, emotive and haunting, Sad Wings has never sounded so powerful and it was the standout track on their debut album to begin with. As powerful as the original song was, this reworking is gut wrenching and such an epic way to open a show. It truly sets the tone for the whole disc.

The album has a little bit of everything. There are BNS songs, Elephant Mountain songs, Just Joe originals, and covers of Simple Man (that BNS recorded by never released because Shinedown beat their label to the punch and BNS’ version is/was so much stronger and better than Shinedown's) Jolene, along with songs by Marshall Tucker Band, and Dixie Hustler.

You know I always have at least one complaint about any album or show I am reviewing and my one and only complaint about this disc is that My World should have been the show closer. I say this because Sad Wings opens it with such a definitive note and tone and My World closes the set out the same way. And then there’s another song. Had the show/album ended on My World this would be simple perfection. There is nothing wrong with the cover of Dixie HustlersGoodnight My Shadow, but the reworking of My World will rip your heart and stomp upon it all over the Lost Horizon stage. So mesmerizing and strong, it finishes were Sad Wings starts. Two perfect book ends to a phenomenal set.

And I take umbrage with Joe calling Missin’ You a turd in a punch bowl. Yes, Sad Wings and My World were the big songs off Brand New Sin’s debut album but my favorite BNS tune of all time is Missin’ You and I understand what he’s trying to say that it just didn’t fit on that album but I disagree completely. Not only is it a great diversion from the rest of the power house songs on the album, without Missin’ You the debut album would have been lacking a certain depth and finesse that the song brings to it. The self titled album may have just been written off as just a bunch of cock rock but Missin’ You gave the whole album a little more credence that it needed and allowed the album and the listener to breathe for a second and connect to the music on a slightly deeper level.

Joe Altier has left his mark on 3 Brand New Sin albums, 2 Elephant Mountain discs, several Just Joe Eps and albums, and let’s not forget all of his guest vocalist appearances And while this is self described as a career retrospective it is actually much more. It is a collection of songs and moments reworked into one magical night that we should all feel honored to be allowed to share now with him and each other.

Once in a Lifetime? Are you kidding me? One has to wonder if the aforementioned Sad Wings, My World and Once in a lifetime were released in the form they are here if Brand New Sin wouldn’t have taken over the ‘Next Big Thing’ slot they were so deserving of when they were still active.

There are a few ways you can get a hold of Live at the Horizon by Just Joe.

Here is how to BUY/STREAM the new album:
Website: http://tinyurl.com/m3feh43
iTunes: http://tinyurl.com/k92u5dv
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/lxesp2k
CD Baby: http://tinyurl.com/myzt5cn
Google Play: http://tinyurl.com/k9uwu4h
Spotify: http://tinyurl.com/khr97s2

 

Live at the Lost Horizon:

1. Sad Wings (Brand New Sin)
2. Grace (Just Joe)
3. Past & Wreckage (Elephant Mountain)
4. Jolene (Ray LaMontagne)
5. Missin' You (Brand New Sin)
6. Once In A Lifetime (Brand New Sin)
7. Take Me Back (Just Joe)
8. Pray (Elephant Mountain)
9. Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
10. The Captain (Just Joe)
11. Can't You See (Marshall Tucker Band)
12. My World (Brand New Sin)
13. Goodnight My Shadow (Dixie Hustler)

 

 

 

elusorycover13G
ELUSORY

Wide Asleep

MichMich Records

Rating: 7 out of 10

Review by: Slim Jim Keller

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes writing for a music website is awesome. You get the new Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration, LULU, a week or two before everyone else (and get to be the first one jamming #2 pencils in your ears to make the pain go away). Sometimes you get to shoot a band that you’ve followed for 30 years and never gotten to see live before (and are totally blown away by how good they still sound and the show they put on). And sometimes you get asked to do reviews of young upstart bands that no one’s ever heard of (and there’s usually a good reason why).

 

Well today is that day. I love it when the mail comes because you never know in my house what is going to show up on any given day. Usually its good things like new CDs or DVDs of bands that you’ve actually heard of and like. And some days you get a bands debut and you can’t make it through 3 songs before LULU starts to sound good. Heaven forbid you actually know someone in the band, and they want your ‘honest’ opinion of their new band.

 

Given ELUSORY’s pedigree I wasn’t too concerned about having another LULU on my hands. Founded by David Morgan (AOD) and Anthony Casaletto (UNSOUND) both formerly of the insanely too short lived MagneHead out of Raleigh, North Carolina in 2012, the band started as a side project of the two former band mates. After some time they found Mike Wells to pull vocal duties for them and the trio was born.

 

For a self described Progressive Rock/Metal band their debut shows a lot of influence from today’s Modern Hard Rock heavy weights. Vocally they range between the San Francisco Metal Masters Machine Head and Killswitch Engage. Musically you take the Melody of Machine Head and guitar crunch and ferocity of a Killswitch Engage or Shadows Fall and Trivium and sprinkle with the occasional odd ambient noise/tones of Disturbed.

 

At first listen there is a certain sameness to the 11-song disc making it a little hard to discern between one song and another. But that fades away quickly once you get into the meat of the album and tunes like Shove It, Helpless, and Wide Asleep show a depth of song writing that you may overlook at the beginning.

 

Once you hit my favorite song on the record, Vanishing, you just crank the music a little louder, take a longer pull on your beer, and let yourself get lost in the unique arrangement and time changes. The guitar work on Vanishing is the best on the disc by far. And would be my first single for the album followed closely by the extremely Machine Head-sounding A King Sits Alone. And I say that as a compliment. More people should strive to sound like Machine Head. Hell, more people should know who Machine Head is! A King Sits Alone isn’t just a Machine Head rip off.. It stands on its own with some brutal guitar riffs and buzz saw sounds backed by David’s relentless pummeling drums. And the vocals for King are absolutely the best on the record (ok, maybe A King Sits Alone is now my favorite track on the album).

 

That’s the dilemma with this disk though. Every time you think you’ve got ELUSORY’s sound figured out, the next song starts and they’re throwing curve balls at your head at 300 MPH. All I know is that by the time the album is over, you’re starting it from track one again and before you know it, you’ve spent the last 4 hours listening to Wide Asleep and not being able to let it go. And that, my friends, is the highest compliment you can give an album today.

 

ELUSORY’s Wide Asleep drops on you poor unsuspecting fools July 7th. And you can go to elurosyrocks.com for information on how to obtain your own copy.

You’ll thank me later.

 

{soundcloud}https://soundcloud.com/elusory-1/04-elusory-a-king-sits-alone{/soundcloud}

 

 

2015 05 23 Saxon 5199
SAXON

2015-05-22

210 Kapones

San Antonio, TX

Review by: Slim Jim Keller

Photos of Saxon from the show can be seen HERE.

 

I usually start a review with a little history about the band and I, where I first heard the band, what drew me to them, but this is Saxon we’re talking about. I don’t really need to give you any background to one of the most underrated influential bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

 

 


The band has been around pouring out albums of high quality head banging anathematic metal for the last 35 years. I’d go into a greatest hits list, but that would just give away the setlist as the band is actually on their 35th Anniversary Road Warriors Tour.

 

This show would only be my second Saxon show ever (see, I guess I am going to give you my history of Saxon after all). I caught them in NYC two years ago at B.B. Kings with Fozzy and was awestruck as how impressive Saxon is live. You’ve got bands that have been doing this for as long as they have, and they are ok. It is more nostalgia than power driving face ripping skull-fucking performances. Saxon still fucks your skull.

 

I said in my recent Queensrÿche show review and Armored Saint show review that San Antonio has a great metal following. I was impressed with the turn out for Queensrÿche the night before; I was floored by the turnout for Saxon this night. There were at least 2,000-2,500 people in the house for Armored Saint and Saxon all decked out in some very old school denim and leather. Back patches were de rigueur and worn with pride. I flashed back to a cold night in 1988 standing outside the Cow Palace waiting for the doors to open so I could see Metallica headline an arena for the first time on their Justice Tour. fast forward 27 years and I was home again. I was in denim and leather heaven.

 

After Armored Saint laid 210 Kapones to waste it was time for the Power & The Glory to take the stage and remind everyone why Saxon are true Heavy Metal Thunder.

 

After 35 years Biff Byford still sounds strong and mean on the microphone. His voice may be a bit grittier but since he never made the mistake of singing falsetto in his younger years, the band doesn’t have to tune down for him to hit his notes like so many old school bands do today.

 

Biff and Paul Quinn (guitars) may be the only remaining original members but really, Saxon’s sound was never unique in an Udo Dirkschneider vocal or Eddie Van Halen guitar tone kind of way. You knew it was Saxon because the sound was pure NWoBHM Saxon, Biff was Biff, and it was always anathematic fist pumping metal. Wheels of Steel, Motorcycle Man, 747 Strangers in the Night, Denim And Leather, Crusader, Power and the Glory… it just doesn’t end. After 35 years the band could play for 3.5 hours and still not play all of their ‘hits’ or best-known cuts and crowd favorites.

 
2015 05 23 Saxon 5065
Biff
mentioned to the crowd that San Antonio was their favorite town to play. Yeah, yeah, yeah, give the crowd a little tug and pull, pay em some lip service, fine. Then he mentions it again after the next song. Finally he tells the crowd that it isn’t bullshit that they truly lover performing in San Antonio because it is always the largest crowd they play to in the States. I don’t know about any other shows than the one I saw in NYC two years ago but I can attest that the crowd in San Antonio was 3 to 4 times the size of the B.B. Kings’ crowd. And if you’re playing to a larger crowd than a New York City crowd, then you’re probably telling the truth. So kudos to San Antonio for representing true metal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there was the tornado warning. For those of you who weren’t in Texas that weekend we had complete shit weather. Rain, Hail, Tornados, 50 mile an hour winds, and more rain. Texas is a big motherfucking state, and half of it was under water by the end of the weekend. During the Armored Saint/Saxon show we had a full-blown tornado warning hit our area. And many were concerned they were going to call the show out of safety reasons. I’m sure most of you have never been in 210 Kapones big room (it was only the 3rd show ever performed there so far), but it’s an old warehouse with a tin roof. The only less safe place to be is a double wide. But the venue and the bands played on. The quote of the night has to go to Biff for the following, ‘We hear there’s a tornado warning outside and its coming our way. The rain is ferocious out there, but we’re going to hunker down and keep on playing till those tornados fuck right off!’ And play on they did. The stage lights died. ALL of the stage lights died. And the band played on. The venue couldn’t get the stage lights back up. And the band played on. The house lights finally came up. And the band played on. The house lights went off. And the band played on. The crowd broke out their cell phones to light the stage. And the band played on. The house lights finally came back on and stayed on. And the band played on. The stage lights never returned. And the band played on. The crowd lost their collective minds. And still the band played on.

 

 

For never having any real radio play in their 35 years, Saxon has a large and dedicated rabid following. In watching the crowd during the bands leading up to Saxon, I noted the age range to be from 17 to 70. And you wonder, who’s there for a local band, who’s there for Armored Saint, and who’s there for Saxon. I can tell you that every single person in the room that night were there for Saxon. Every single person new every single song and sang along with the band, threw their horns and screamed their heads off the entire set. You can tell when someone in the audience is just there enjoying a show, and when someone is a real fan of the band performing. They’re singing all the lyrics right back at the band, they’re head banging in time and time changes to the song, they’re cheering when the first notes of a song are performed because they know what song is coming. And that appeared to be each and every person in 210 Kapones that Saturday night.



Saxon doesn’t many dates at a time in the US. But they do hit hear at least once a year it seems lately. So do yourself a favor and travel far and long and go see Saxon live. You deserve to get schooled in the old fashioned art of Denim and Leather again. You’ll thank me later.

 

 

 

 

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ARMORED SAINT

2015-05-23

210 Kapones

San Antonio, TX

Posted by: Slim Jim Keller

 

 

Sometime in 1984 I’m sitting at a friend’s house on a Friday or Saturday night and we’re watching MTV and this video comes on that is something straight out of the movie Excalibur. There’s a knight, dudes in futuristic armor, and they are rocking the fuck out on a song called Can U Deliver. The band was Armored Saint and while that video doesn’t hold up 30+ years later, the song certainly does. That, ladies and gentlemen, is when I became an Armored Saint fan.

 

Now the only problem with being an Armored Saint fan is never getting to see them live. They haven’t been the most active band over the years and they tour less than The Rolling Stones. There’s been many a reason why they haven’t spent a lot of time on the road over the years, death of band members, John Bush joining Anthrax, the band going into hibernation multiple times for multiple years, etc. All that is to say that listening to the Saint for 30 plus years and I have yet to be able to see them perform live.

 

Well that all changed last Saturday night when Armored Saint and Saxon came to San Antonio to take part in 210 Kapones’ two-day metal festival. Standing out on the deck in front of the venue taking in the sites of all the old school denim and leather I was really surprised at how many ‘old school’ metal fans there were in attendance that night. When I think of San Antonio I don’t think a hot bed of Metal music. But Friday and Saturday night changed all of that for me.

 

Armored Saint are doing a short run of shows with Saxon to promote their new album Win Hands Down that comes out on June 2nd. So when I saw the San Antonio date being the closest to me, there was no way I wasn’t going to finally see the Saint live.

While the band wasn’t headlining, they packed as much into as short a time as possible for us fans. Every album was represented from March of the Saint to Win Hands Down. The Saint was in fine form also, I mean when you’re only doing about two weeks worth of shows its kind of hard not to be, but the reverse of that is that when you aren’t road warriors, performing live doesn’t come naturally and sometimes you never really knock the rust off if you don’t spend any real time on the road. While I could have used about another forty-five minutes to an hour of Armored Saint, the set list I did get was almost everything I could have asked for.


I’ve said for years that John Bush is one of my top three male vocalists ever. Chris Cornell and Mike Patton may have a broader range than John Bush, but his balls out delivery is almost unmatched in metal and hard rock period.

 

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From March of the Saint to Reign of Fire, Can U Deliver to Chemical Euphoria Bush belted out the Saint ‘hits’ like only he can. I loved him in Anthrax and the music they made together and shows I saw with him in the band were the best I’d ever seen of them (until the following night at River City Rockfest… but more on that later). Seeing and hearing John perform with Armored Saint finally was magic to behold. Gonzo bashing away on the drums while Joey Vera danced around his bass lines like a mad man on stage was everything I always expected a Saint show to be. Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan laying down those timeless Armored Saint riffs was truly a pleasure to behold as well.

 

 

 

Armored Saint doesn’t give you many opportunities to see them perform. So if you see/hear of them anywhere remotely near you, then you pack up the car and hit the road and go see them. Who knows when we’ll ever get the chance to do the Tribal Dance with the Armored Saint ever again?!?!?!

 

You can see all of my photos from the show right HERE.

 

And you can pick up your own copy of Win Hands Down right HERE.

 

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QUEENSRYCHE

2015-05-22

210 Kapones

San Antonio, TX

 Review by: Slim Jim Keller

 

 

You can scroll through this site and see what I’ve had to say about Queensryche and their split with their original singer Geoff Tate. The short and sweet of it is I’m happy he’s gone. He’s still got a great voice, but the direction he wanted to go and was going, and the direction the band wanted, obviously weren’t the same place (thankfully!).

 

While I wasn’t blown over by the band’s first album with new singer Todd La Torre, I was happy to hear them going back to a harder more progressive sound. Hopefully their upcoming release will be even stronger than the last. Todd’s got the voice, let’s see if the band has the song writing skills to compare to The Warning, or Rage For Order, which is the direction they seem to be going, and the direction the fans certainly want them to go.

 

So 210 Kapones in San Antonio was putting together a two-day rock fest with day one being some local bands and Faster Pussycat & Queensryche. Well Faster Pussycat apparently called off their tour at the beginning of the week and this left Queensryche with the sole reason for hitting the show Friday night.


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This would be the first time that I would see the band with Todd as their front man, and I would not be disappointed.
The band played cuts from The Warning, Rage For Order, Operation: Mindcrime, Empire, their first EP and of course their self titled disc they recorded with Todd on vocals.

While I wasn’t too keen on the release originally, live the songs work much better with the older stuff than I thought. Live they really shine. And live is where the band really belongs.

 

 

You can YouTube the shit out of Todd and hear the voice. You know he’s got the chops. But hearing songs like Nightrider, En Force, and Queen of the Ryche performed live again in person is… awesome. The sweeping vocals, Scott Rockenfield’s massive drum sound, Eddie’s rumbling bass, and the duel attack of Michael and Parker on guitars makes this long time Queensryche fan very happy.


A quick run through my mental show Rolodex file says I’ve seen the band 11 times, in 88, 90, 91, 92, 93, 98, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2012 and now 2015. And I’m here to tell you I haven’t seen the band hit on all cylinders like they did Friday night since Day on the Green 1991. While the Operation: Mindcrime theatrical shows were amazing, it was the music and the theatrics more than the band playing off each other that really sticks out. 


But having seen them a couple times right before the split with Geoff I can say that the entire band seems much looser and happier on stage now. And it comes across in the music.


If you haven’t seen Queensryche perform in a while, then you’re missing out on a great live band with a renewed since of purpose.


They say rock is dead, the thousand plus people in 210 Kapones Friday night for Queensryche proves that idiom wrong. The band has been around for 30+ years, they’ve gone through a very public ugly breakup and spent the last 10 years damn near running their name into the ground. But they’ve shed their albatross, they’ve gone back to their roots, and they’re rebuilding their empire again. 


I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings us!

 

You can see all of our picutres of Queensrÿche's amazing show at 210 Kapones right HERE!

 

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