MEGADETH, LAMB OF GOD, TRIVIUM & HATEBREED Bring Metal To Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

The Metal Tour of the Year came to its conclusion at the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a little over a month run across the United States. The bill featured co-headliners Megadeth and Lamb Of God with special guests Triviumand Hatebreed. Thankfully this tour didn’t succumb to cancellations like many other tours trying to cross the country. A sold-out venue waited for a heavy dose of fist pounding metal and this tour didn’t disappoint. 

Hatebreed came out with every intention of destroying the place. Led by vocalist Jamey Jasta the band blistered through a ten-track set that opened with “Empty Promises.” Jasta told the crowd it was Hatebreed’s job to warm up the crowd, and they did a lot more than that. Circle pits ignited to counter the massive energy coming off the stage. It’s impossible not to love and appreciate what they bring to the table every time they step onto the stage. The only thing that matches the intensity is how much fun they have and how they attack every second they have to play. The music is aggressive but the attitude is 100% positive and they have a way of uniting everybody in the building. The only true way to experience who and what they are, is too take in show and hear the material in its truest form, loud, unapologetic and without mercy. A couple of my favorite songs made the cut with “This Is Now” and “Looking Down the Barrel of Today” were highlights. The band ended the night with “I Will Be Heard.” 

Trivium has a brand-new album set for release called ‘In The Court Of The Dragon” and that’s where the band started as they took the stage. Kicking off with the title track the Florida based unit hit with a musical precision that sliced though the building. I thought the bands last release in 2020, ‘What The Dead Men Say,” was one of the best albums released that year and this was our first taste of hearing some of those songs live. Along with the title track we also got “Catastrophist’ which sounded amazing and left me wanting to hear more of that record. Plagued with a shortened time-slot and so much material the play, they went with “Strife,” “The Heart From Your Hate” and another brand new song off the upcoming album “Feast Of Fire.” It’s hard not to get anything from ‘Ascendancy’ or ‘Shogun’ but understandable giving the slot they are in. This set delivered everything you have come to expect from a Trivium show, lots of passion, energy and songs executed with perfection. The show ended with “In Waves” and now we wait for the next album to drop (October 8th) and I would assume there will be a tour right around the corner to support it. 

To put into the simplest words, the band that took over the stage next, was an absolute beast! Lamb Of God took the roof off with a set that any adrenaline junky would have enjoyed. The cement floor was bouncing like a mini-trampoline because everybody was jumping up-and-down as the chaos that was on the stage was seeping into the crowd. The energy that engulfed the Armory is something you just have to feel, and be part of, to understand its magnitude. They opened with “Memento Mori” and never looked back as they obliviated a twelve-song set. When vocalist Randy Blythe introduced the song “Walk With Me In Hell,” the stage became a fiery inferno. Flames shot up into the air throughout the stage as he stomped from side to side. The band provided its own fire that didn’t need pyro to fuel it. They were tight and ferocious and built the musical landscape to which Blythe used as his own personal playground as he leaped off anything, he could use to take flight and taking moments to windmill his dreadlocks. Some of songs that made it on to the list were “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For,” “Set To Fail,” “512,” “Ruin” and “Laid To Rest.” It was an explosive set that had fans absorbing every note as people sang, screamed, fist pumped and jumped into circle pits. The closer, “Redneck,” brought the house down and whatever energy people had left, they spent it happily. Lamb Of God put on an exhilarating show and after a long period of no concerts, people were clearly ready to go from the moment they took the stage. 

The legendary and proud member of the Big 4, Megadeth, would take the stage to close out the night. They opened the show with a track from one of the most important albums in metal history, ‘Rust In Peace,” the thrash classic “Hanger 18.” Just like the bands before them, you could hear the roar of the crowd as they took the stage. Dave Mustaine is the only original member left that created some of the most iconic and influential metal every recorded but the band he had assembled was flawless. Kiko Loureiro on guitar, Dirk Verbeuren was on the kit and James LoMenzo, recently tapped to cover bass for the tour, excecated the material that met the high standards of Megadeth fans. It was really a breath of fresh air to see Mustaine on stage and ripping through those massive riffs and shredding those blazing solos. We all know of the cancer battle he went through and then the pandemic shut the world down from concerts. I wondered if we had seen the last of Megadeth, but this tour, and seeing this band back on stage, is a heavy indicator that there is still gas in the tank. The perfect set-list could be debated for days but to close out the final date we got “The Threat Is Real,” “Sweating Bullets,” “Trust,” “She-Wolf” and the massive hit “Symphony Of Destruction.” The best was saved for last as, for me, the two most important songs in catalog came next. “Peace Sells,” was the tune that pulled me into the band, and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due,” a genre defining song, that never gets old live. As the lights went down on this show and the tour, I can only hope that this is just the beginning of tours to come. If you were born metal, live and breathe metal, this is exactly where you needed to be and where you need to go in the future.

SHINEDOWN, SEETHER, MAMMOTH WVH & AYRON JONES Shine in Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

After eighteen long months, the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, opened its doors for its first concert. Greeting the thousands of people that flocked into the venue was the 93X Family Reunion which featured Shinedown along with special guests SeetherMammoth WVH and Ayron Jones.

Hitting the stage first was Seattle’s singer, songwriter and guitarist Ayron Jones. He is out supporting his fantastic album ‘Child of the State.’ From the opening note of “Boys From The Puget Sound” he had my attention. Immediately his connection to the guitar and what came pouring out of it took hold of me and held me memorized. He is a product of so many influences and through that he encompasses various genres to create a sound that is uniquely him. There are elements of rock, grunge, soul and hip-hop fused throughout his songs. It becomes trivial to try to pin-point who or what he sounds like because as soon as you think he is this, he quickly morphs into something else. The real tragedy of the night was his extremely short set. He only got four songs that included “Supercharged,” “Mercy,” “Take Me Away” along with opening cut. He assembled a fantastic backing band that brought a ton of energy and fun to the stage and allowed Jones to take control with his singing and playing.  I would suspect Ayron Jones was the unknown entity on the bill but hopefully more people become aware of him as he is a fantastic artist that needs to be heard. 

The biggest buzz about the night hit the stage next. Mammoth WVH, featuring Wolfgang Van Halen, struck with “Don’t Back Down” to a rousing cheer from the crowd. The self-titled debut album was released back in June and Mammoth WVH have been on the road ever since supporting it. Just like the artist that played before him, Wolfgang knows there is strength in numbers and has put together a fantastic band to help bring his song to life on stage. Mammoth WVHblistered through six songs that included “Mammoth,” “You’ll Be The One,” “Your To Blame,” the ballad “Distance” and closed with “Epiphany.” The musical attack was precise and Wolfgang, playing both guitar and keyboard, sounded great vocally. There has been a real thrust of new bands playing rock/hard rock music but many of these young acts tend to pull form the seventies vibe for influence, but that is not the case with Mammoth WVH. They are an unapologetic arena rock band that have crafted songs with all the musical trappings, big choruses, catchy hooks, infectious melodies, that fit nicely on rock radio and appeal to mass audiences. This was another set that ended way too soon and I’m sure many people are hoping they come back on a headline set real soon. 

The band that formed in 1999 in Pretoria, Gauteng, Seether, took to the stage next and opened with ‘Gasoline.’ The bands longest serving member, lead vocalist and guitarist Shaun Morgan was flanked stage right while bassist Dale Stewart roamed the center section. Stage left was guitarist Corey Lowery and on the kit was drummer John Humphrey. The band’s style revolves around post-grunge, alternative, nu metal and hard rock. They have built up a tremendous mainstream audience with continued success of numerous singles that have charted on various charts. Many of those hits, ‘Country Song,’ ‘Fine Again,’ and ‘Fake It’ were scattered throughout the set. The song ‘Broken’ was stripped down with just Stewart on acoustic guitar and Morgan with his electric guitar while the other two guys left the stage. Seether released their eighth studio record, ‘Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,’ back in 2020 and that album was represented with ‘Bruised and Bloodied,” “Wasteland,” and ‘Dangerous’ all included in the twelve-song set. Seether has been a very consistent band and has a very loyal following and you could hear those people throughout the night and especially when the band cranked into the big hit ‘Remedy.’ It was a solid set that I’m sure fans of the band were delighted to see them and hear those songs again. 

The crowd let out a tremendous roar as the lights went out with the anticipation of Shinedown taking the stage. That anticipation quickly changed into euphoria as the song ‘Cut The Cord’ ripped through the Target Center air. The quartet featuring Brent Smith(vocals), Barry Kerch (drums), Zach Myers (guitar) and Eric Bass (Bass), despite the layoff, seemed like a well-oiled machine. The energy they had was infectious and it came right off the stage and engulfed the crowd. The band was all in and so was the crowd, it had a been a long eighteen months since the last show here and everybody was determined to take the roof off of the place. Shinedown has a thick catalog of chart success that built this machine to the arena level act they are.They have been a Billboard Mainstream Rock chart mainstay and have generated a mass appeal to people of all ages. The setlist contained so many favorites, songs like ’45,’ ‘Diamond Eyes,’ ‘Bully’ and ‘Enemies’ are brilliant and people sang every word with the band. I can truly appreciate a small intimate club show with one of my favorite artists but there is also something to be said about arena shows. It wasn’t that long ago that rock and metal acts made up the bulk of the music schedule for arenas across the country but things have slowed down and big shows like this are getting less common. It’s such an amazing experience and environment, the sound thundering through the crowd while the lights dance around the sound. That massive stage with the pyro and explosions, all these are staples of a live music show that only can happen here, the big venues, and its magical. Shinedown understands that, when your giving this opportunity, built up a tremendous fan base like they have, you must deliver every night, and this performance did just that. The night came to close with ‘Sounds Of Madness’ with fists pumping from the front row to the ceiling and flames shooting into the air…that’s what it’s all about. 

BEARTOOTH & WAGE WAR Bring The Below Tour to Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

Beartooth brought the highly anticipated ‘The Below Tour’ to The Fillmore Minneapolis in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The tour also featured Wage War in support. Dragged Under, who is also featured on this run, was unable to perform as they have momentarily stepped away from the tour for safety reason and hope to rejoin it in the near future. It was a packed house and you could feel the anticipation building as fans counted down the minutes until the lights went out.

Coming to the stage to a tremendous roar from the crowd, the band hailing from Ocala, Florida, was Wage War. Knowing the energy the headliner would bring, they were determined from the opening note not to be outdone. Opening with “Stitch” and then into “Who I am” the onslaught was on. The crowed returned that energy as a circle pit was quickly put into motion. Vocalist Briton Bond paced the stage as he ignited the fans to give the band everything they had. Flanking the singer were guitarist Seth Blake and Cody Quistad. The rhythm section consisted of bassist Chris Gaylord and drummer Stephen Kluesene. Two of the highlights from the set were the tracks “High Horse” and newly released single “Circle The Drain.” Both songs are featured on the upcoming album release, ‘Manic’, that will be dropped on October 1, 2021. Powering through a blistering set consisting of ten cuts, the band said goodnight with the closer “Low.” This was my first-time catching Wage War live and they were impressive, I look forward to hearing the new record and hope to catch them again real soon. 

With the intermission over, the lights dropped to the sound of ‘Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit blaring through the sound system of The Fillmore. What came next was nothing short of a purple tidal wave that engulfed the room with a sonic audio assault that could that hardly be contained by the walls that held the venue together. The energy in the room took over and that circle pit Wage War started earlier, was now twice as big and moving to the intensity of the music. Beartooth was now in command as they ripped into the opener “Below” and then “Devastation.” Not to be outdone by the sheer aggression of the sound, the lightshow coming off the stage was just as tenacious as the music was. It cut through the smoke with precision and at times you could barely see the stage.

Beartooth mastermind and vocalist Caleb Shomo took advantage of every second he had on that stage. He was non-stop movement as he ran from side to side igniting the crowd, that quite frankly, didn’t need any more inspiration to fully throw themselves into Shomo’s world. The fans were all in, singing every word as the crowd surfers made a steady stream to the stage. It didn’t matter what they played as Beartooth maneuvered through a set that included songs from all the releases. Songs from ‘Disgusting’ included “Body Bag,” “In Between,” “Beaten In Lips” and “In Between.” Tunes from the album ‘Aggressive” were “Hated” and “Sick Of Me.” Three songs from ‘Disease’ included the title track, “You Never Know” and “Bad Listener,” but tonight the celebration revolved around the fantastic 2021 release simply called ‘Below.’ Eight songs anchored the set highlighted by “Hell of It,” “Fed Up” and “The Past Is Dead.” The guys that were asked to deliver the musical goods were completely on task. Guitarists Zach Houston and Will Deely along with bassist Oshie Bichar and drummer Connor Denis provided the soundscape that powered the engine that brought the songs alive. As the night went on the crowd never let up, the pit just kept spinning and heat and humidity in the building built up to the point where the ceiling was dripping moisture. The brilliant night of music ended as they closed the show with “The Last Riff.” 

The biggest take away from seeing Beartooth for the first time wasn’t the explosive energy of the band or the blistering aggressiveness of the music that pulverized everything within earshot, and it wasn’t the bombastic light show that worked in unison with the music. All those things were impressive that made for an awesome concert. That thing that stuck with me was that connection between Beartooth and the people that jammed into that venue to see them. That connection is real, it’s something that can’t be manufactured, all those people screaming those lyrics and locking into every movement and word that came off that stage wasn’t lost on Shomo. He was so appreciative of those fans and just being on stage again. He, and the rest of the band, gave everything they had because every moment counts. We have learned over the past year that this can be taken away instantly. Let’s hope we get more moments like this in our futures. 

DIRTY HONEY MAKES PHENOMENAL RETURN TO TENNESSEE WITH JOYOUS WOLF

When I heard that California’s own, Dirty Honey, were returning to Johnson City, Tennessee, I knew from that point I wanted to make this show. But when I heard who was opening for Dirty Honey, I really got ecstatic! None other than the Orange County, California rock band, Joyous Wolf! This night was going to be nothing but pure rock n roll for the soul!

 I have a story I always like to tell about Dirty Honey, so before I get too far into this, I’d like to tell you what happened.

  Dirty Honey was playing Johnson City, Tennessee, in 2020. The same venue, which is called “Capones” on Main Street. If you have never been to Capones, please do yourself a favor and check out this super venue! Great place to see a show! Anyway, the date was January 29, 2020. I was in attendance and loving every minute. Little did I know, Dirty Honey would be my last show until late 2020, thanks to COVID-19. Not really what I would call “rock” shows per say, but I got to see some live music. 2021 is really when it started to get better. It makes me so happy that after a year of being quarantined, (which I wasn’t, I had a job and thankful I have kept it through this mess,) that I can finally go out and start seeing some shows again! Dirty Honey was my last show at Capones in 2020 and Dirty Honey was my return to Capones in 2021! Funny how it works out sometimes!

 Now let’s talk about this stunning show in depth!

 For those who do not know Joyous Wolf, you are missing out big time! As I stated earlier, they’re from Orange County, California. They have released one EP titled “Place In Time”, which blows my mind every time I listen to it. The mix on this EP is remarkable. It stays in my rotation of albums I spin. If you were to ask me, I would tell you this is one of the greatest rock bands that has hit the stage in 10+ years. This unique lineup consists of “Nick Reese – Vocals”,  “Blake Allard – Guitar”,  “Greg Braccio – Bass”,  “Robert Sodaro – Drums”. Joyous Wolf is an unbelievably tight band. I would hate to be the following act because I know some huge shoes would have to be filled! (Dirty Honey stuck right with them though).

  It was time for Joyous Wolf to come out on stage. The crowd was pumped! As soon as Nick Reese made his presence known, Capone’s exploded! The 4 young gentlemen in Joyous Wolf knew they were getting ready to give this crowd what they had been waiting for since the pandemic. Starting with their song “Fearless”, Joyous Wolf was not going to stop! Their hard driven rock sound with intense guitar work right in your face, along with groovy bass lines, this made Capones want more! Every head was bobbing in this venue, including mine! Also doing one of their well-known songs “Quiet Heart”, got me ultra-excited! This is one of my favorite Joyous Wolf songs. I remember hearing Joyous Wolf play this once before at Manchester Music Hall in Lexington, KY, and I loved it then. But the power that Joyous Wolf had in them in Tennessee, blew me away. I was amazed from start to finish. But that wasn’t all. They also threw in “Mother Rebel”, “Talk To Me”, “Get Myself Right” among other rockers! Joyous Wolf always puts on a super show! I got to speak with them after the show. Super nice guys! Get out and support this amazing rock act! They’re going to be at Louder Than Life this year. They will be playing Friday. If you do not get a chance to see them before then, here is your opportunity. It’s worth the price of a ticket to see Joyous Wolf. Trust me on that!

 Now it was Dirty Honey’s turn to rock Capones.

If you’re not familiar with Dirty Honey, please be sure to look them up! You will not be sorry, I promise! Dirty Honey resides in Los Angeles, California. They got their start in 2017. They released their first E.P. “Dirty Honey” in 2019. The first track from this E.P. “When I’m Gone” hit big! It hit the US Mainstream Rock charts at #1! How amazing is this?! Not even a full-length release at that time and already a #1 song! That alone should let you know how kick ass Dirty Honey truly is! Dirty Honey, however, released their full-length studio album titled “Dirty Honey” in April of 2021. Dirty Honey consists of “Marc Labelle – Vocals” “John Notto – Guitar”, “Justin Smolian – Bass”, “Corey Coverstone – Drums”. Dirty Honey is another band I would for sure say is one of the greatest bands that has came along in the last 10+ years. They get better and better every time I see them! Dirty Honey better put their shades on because there is a bright future ahead for these 4 gentlemen!

Dirty Honey makes their way to the stage and oh man! Capones just became an uproar!! It was LOUD! Starting out with their song “Gypsy”, this building was shaking! Everyone was so happy to finally enjoy good rock n roll again! Marc Labelle was eating it up! He loved the turnout! Marc stated through the show that the crowd at Capones had been his favorite on this tour. He loved the enthusiasm coming from the crowd. Not to mention every song that was played from Dirty Honey including “Fire Away”, “Heartbreaker”, “Down The Road”, “California Dreamin’” , and the encores of “When I’m Gone” and Rolling 7’s”, was sung by the crowd! Word for word! It was such a thrilling experience to see live! What surprised me even more was when Dirty Honey pulled out an AC/DC cover. They performed “Girls Got Rhythm”! What a reaction! Holy crap! I feel that was such a fitting song to play that night because so many women were dancing and had a lot of rhythm. In my mind, that was a good call by Dirty Honey to include in the set! Dirty Honey was groovy! The incredible bass, with the clean sounding guitar, along with crisp vocals and sick drum fills/grooves. If you love rock n roll, you’ll love this band. No doubt about that at all!

 Overall, I enjoyed my experience seeing Dirty Honey and Joyous Wolf! 10/10 show. Amazing performances, amazing staff at Capones, everything was perfect. I wish I could go back and re-live that night again! If you want to experience rock n roll, and a killer live show, these 2 bands are your best bet. Please get out and support these guys! They can’t do it without us!  Live music is making it’s return. It’s starting to slowly come back to the arenas, the clubs, the stadiums and everywhere else live music is held. Please, get out and see some shows. COVID-19 has almost killed live music and musicians, so please, buy a ticket, buy some merch and lets keep these guys on the road letting them make our next favorite album!

STEEL PANTHER Fuels Hysteria with BLACK STONE CHERRY In Kentucky!

2020. The worst year in a 100+ years? Especially for us metal heads and music lovers. All the world got hit with COVID-19/ pandemic. The pandemic has been rough on us all and we appreciate all our frontline workers in the medical field, food service, emergency services and beyond. But finally, in 2021, it appears some light at the end of the tunnel. Our beloved music scene is starting slowly to come back! I am so thrilled to say I have seen 4 shows in 2021 and summertime hasn’t even official started! More and more progress is being made and we have to do our part, so live music can come back stronger than ever!! Speaking of live music, let’s discuss the tremendous show that Steel Panther and Black Stone Cherry put on at The Corbin Arena in Corbin, KY!

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KISS & DAVID LEE ROTH Ignite The Night In Lexington, Kentucky [Review & Photo Gallery]

Ideally, the role of the critic is to approach the subject from a place of impartiality, to examine its relative merits and flaws, and to offer and render an honest and unbiased review for the edification of the audience.

Right up front, I feel I should let you know that this ain’t gonna be that. Continue reading

THE HU & FIRE FROM THE GODS Are Brilliant In Bristol, UK [Review & Photo Gallery]

This is the second trip to Bristol and the UK by the Mongolian metal band The Hu. They have been taking the world by storm with their truly unique sound that shows off their native heritage as well as their influence from modern metal bands. Their style is completely different from anything else in the metal genre, and after their recent duet with Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix on the track “Wolf Totem” it’s made them even more popular. Their support act this time around is the Texas based heavy metal band Fire From The Gods. The band has a way of appealing to a wide fan base as their sound can’t be pigeon holed to one genre, but they incorporate elements of metalcore, nu metal, traditional heavy metal, and thrash. Lead vocalist AJ Channer is the backbone of the band and his inspirational lyrics along with the bands immense groove have helped them establish a large following. Even though the band has been road dogs for the past several years constantly staying on tour this is Fire From The Gods first trip to the UK. That being said the fans tonight are in for one hell of a show as it will be their first time seeing Fire From The Gods and the chance to witness a once in a lifetime act like The Hu. On a side note I interviewed Fire From The Gods frontman AJ just before their set , you can check the interview out on Metal Nexus coming soon. Continue reading

KORN & BREAKING BENJAMIN Power Up Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

Korn and Breaking Benjamin have joined together for a run through North America dubbed the ‘Winter Tour 2020.’ Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota saw fans flocking through the doors with a great anticipation of a night of heavy music . Bones UK provided support for the co-headline tour. Continue reading

Dirty Honey Brings Sweet Tunes To Johnson City, Tennessee [Review & Photo Gallery]

The up and coming powerhouse that is Dirty Honey made a stop in Johnson City, Tennessee with their “Rolling 7’s tour,” they brought British rockers The Amazons along for the ride! Fans had traveled from far and wide to see what a superb night of music from two stellar rock bands! If you get a chance to see this astonishing tour, I would highly recommend you take the opportunity to see what Dirty Honey and The Amazons are about! One thing is for sure, I knew this night was going to be mind blowing! Continue reading

TOOL Spirals Out in Nashville [Review & Photo Gallery]

Four years and six days to the date since last descending upon Nashville, genre transcending and now three time Best Metal Performance Grammy winning band Tool returned to Music City to fascinate their ever loyal fan base and captivate the uninitiated. Along for the ride and opening was Author & Punisher, who, as with most Tool tours, was an eccentric choice that most Tool fans wouldn’t necessarily encounter when shuffling ‘Tool Radio’ on their streaming service of choice.
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