GHOST & NOTHING MORE Bring “The Ultimate Tour Named Death” To South Dakota [Review & Photo Gallery]

 

Ghost is continuing to haunt North America as the dubbed “The Ultimate Tour Named Death” made a stop at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The explosive band from San Antonio, Texas Nothing More provided direct support. Continue reading

Chicago Open Air Saturday: SYSTEM OF A DOWN & More [Review and Photo Gallery]

System Of A Down

Last year in mid July I saw down at my house without much to do. It was sad knowing that the same weekend over the previous two years was spent catching several fantastic acts like Rammstein, Gojira, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and more at the Chicago Open Air festival. When the news came that the festival wouldn’t be happening in 2018, I was devastated. I had made several friends and memories both years at the festival and was really looking forward to it again. It was promised to return in 2019 but many people were unsure that it would actually happen. In September, it was announced that Chicago Open Air would be returning, but it was weirdly worded. It was said that it would now be titled “A Day In The Park” and would take place the same weekend as the new Danny Wimmer Presents festival, Sonic Temple. Many of us were unsure what this meant exactly, but we knew that the festival definitely was not going to be the same. Eventually the lineup was rolled out in January, and the “A Day In The Park” vision never really happened. Instead, the event was two days with only one stage. This was different compared to the previous years as it was three days with two stages. Despite being a small lineup, there were several killer acts on it to keep me happy like System of a DownToolThe ProdigyGojira, and ten more acts. Continue reading

SONIC TEMPLE Friday Review & Photo Gallery!

Ghost

Mapfre Stadium in Columbus Ohio has been home to Rock on the Range for the last 11 years. But after last year’s festival, Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP) split ways with their former partner AEG and were unable to keep the rights to the name Rock On The Range thus the festival being renamed: Sonic Temple Arts and Music Festival. Could it create the same moments and memories that made Rock On The Range legendary for over 10 years?

I arrived at Mapfre Stadium about 2 hours before doors open. There was already a huge line of people waiting to get in and you could feel the excitement from everyone.

The Jacks

The Jacks were the first band on the schedule and they opened up the Echo Stage with a good easy going set. Their EP hasn’t been released yet so the crowd got to hear some upcoming songs off of it including “Walk Away” and “Looking For Love.” It’s going to be a long day of live music. They were the perfect band to start the day.

Shvpes

Shvpes was next up on the Echo Stage they were first band of the weekend featuring members that have famous fathers. Griffin Dickinson, the band’s lead singer, is the son of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. That alone brought out a decent crowd. They were a little faster tempo than I was expecting and that seemed to energize the crowd as we had our first mosh pit and crowd surfers of the weekend. Most of their set included songs off of their 2018 album ‘Greater Than’ including “Undertones” and “Afterlife.”

Badflower

Badflower had the honor of opening this year’s Main Stage and they didn’t disappoint. They didn’t play to a huge crowd, however, as most of them were still lined up trying to get in the gates. It was also probably the calmest the main stage crowd was all weekend. Most of their set included songs from their debut album including “x ANA x,” “Ghost,” and “Heroin,” in which lead singer Josh Katz stated was the #1 rock song in America in the upcoming chart. “I’m going to get in trouble for saying that” he stated before starting the song.

Wage War

For all the metalheads in attendance, we got our first metal band of the day over at the Echo Stage. Wage War come out to thunderous cheers and multiple devil horn salutes in the air. The crowd instantly broke out into 3 circle pits and the band was loving the energy from the crowd. Their set included their new single “Low” and songs from their other 2 albums including “Alive” and “Stitch.”

Avatar

Next up on the Main Stage is the band that may have put on the best performance of the day on that stage. The Swedish rockers, Avatar, came out with high energy and had members of the band sitting on a throne above the drum set as they performed “A Statue of the King.” The crowd was going crazy as they performed their hits “Hail the Apocalypse” and “Smells Like a Freakshow.” To add to the insanity of the performance, a guy in a chicken suit was crowd surfing nonstop. An Avatar stage show is really cool to witness and is a must see if you can catch them on the festival circuit.

Zeal & Ardor

The Echo Stage was now the place to be to see the most unique band of the weekend. Zeal & Ardor, a relatively new band that mixes black metal with southern blues and gospel, absolutely destroyed the 2nd stage and put on what I think was the best performance of the entire weekend. The crowd was completely enthralled with the band as they sang along to all of the evil lyrics to songs such as “Blood In The River,” “Devil is Fine,” and “Don’t You Dare.” It was nonstop awesomeness for their 30 minute set and the only time the singer spoke to the crowd was to say “We don’t talk a lot. I hope that’s ok.” When you kick as much ass as they do, it absolutely is.

Beartooth

Imagine getting to play the Main Stage of a festival in front of your hometown fans. That’s exactly what Beartooth got to do. And the crowd was loving it as much as they did. Lead singer Caleb Shomo kept urging the crowd; “More crowdsurfing. More mosh pits.” The crowd responded with an onslaught of people getting tossed toward the stage as the band played songs such as “Disease” and “In Between.”

Parkway Drive

The heaviest band to play the Main Stage so far was up next. Parkway Drive had the crowd raging during the hottest part of the day with the sun beaming down on the stadium floor. That didn’t seem to bother the crowd as they seemed to enjoy the set that consisted mostly of songs from the bands most recent album ‘Reverence.’

Tom Morello

I left Parkway Drive’s performance early to head over to the Wave Stage to see Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello play a solo set. This was one of the most interesting sets of the weekend. Morello started out by playing in the crowd during the first song. During the 2nd song, he went on stage and played with a DJ and a video board that displayed various political messages including anti-police messages such as “Be white or get shot.” During all of this, I kept saying to myself “did I really miss Black Label Society for this?” But as soon as I said that, we got what may be the best highlight of the weekend. To honor the 2 year anniversary of Chris Cornell’s death, Morello brought out System of a Down’s Serj Tankian to play a cover of Audioslave’s “Like a Stone.” The performance was incredibly emotional. The performance ended with Morello bringing people up from the crowd on the stage to sing songs from the Rage Against the Machine catalog.

Halestorm

Now it was time for the first of the Main Stage headliners. Halestorm started their set with a drum solo. At first I thought that was odd but it gave the crowd a chance to get over from the side stages and get settled in. Their set contained all of their hits and a selection of songs from their new album ‘Vicious.’ A couple of set highlights included Lzzy bringing up a girl from the crowd and giving her a custom Epiphone Explorer. Very cool moment. Halestorm also dedicated their hit song “Get Off” to their 10 year anniversary of playing Rock On The Range over on the Jager Stage when no one knew who they were.

Meshuggah

The headliner for the Echo Stage was none other than extreme metal band Meshuggah. This was my first time seeing the Swedish metallers and I was expecting big things. I had kept hearing that a Meshuggah pit was a religious experience. But I didn’t experience that. The band was good and they played a wide range of songs from their catalog but I didn’t feel they gave the crowd much energy and they stood in spot on stage for most of the set. Others in the crowd seemed to be having a blast as I smelled the most marijuana that I did all weekend. Maybe that’s what I needed to really enjoy the set.

Ghost

The sun was setting. The cool breeze has started blowing through. It was time for the ritual to begin. Ghost provokes a very decisive reaction from fans: you either love them or you hate them. I fall under the former and I loved their set. All of the best songs from their albums were played including “Absolution,” “Cirice,” “Dance Macabre,” and “Square Hammer.” For the first time ever at this festival (and probably only time), a full on saxophone solo broke out during their instrumental tune “Miasma.” Heavy metal doesn’t have to be heavy to be great. Ghost is the perfect example of that.

As soon as Ghost left the stage, the rains began to pour down. The rains didn’t last long and had stopped by the time System Of A Down hit the stage. It has been 16 years since I’ve seen them live and since they don’t play many shows, I was beyond excited to see them again. As soon as they started playing, I could tell something was out of sync. After 3 songs, Daron Malakian announced to the crowd that they had to reboot the sound system. He led the crowd in a “fuck the system” chant that ended up being a theme of the set. After a 10 minute delay, the band came back out and continued the set. System Of A Down is known for not being that great of a live band and for me personally that was the case here as well. Even after the audio fix, the band just didn’t seem in sync. I’m not sure if it is the fact that they don’t get along very well or the fact that it had been 8 months since they played together, but the performance just wasn’t that great. The crowd still had a great time and we got to hear 27 songs including an even mix from all of their albums. But it was a disappointing end to a great day of live music.

 

EXIT 111 Festival: With GUNS N’ ROSES, DEF LEPPARD, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, SLAYER And More [Complete Lineup & Details]

The first ever Exit 111 festival is coming to the Tennessee Bonnaroo grounds this fall and features a monster musical lineup including Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Slayer, Megadeth, ZZ Top, Ghost, Mastodon, Deftones, Coheed and Cambria, Lamb of God, and many more. The three-day experience will take place on Friday, October, 11th, Saturday, October 12th, and Sunday, October 13th at Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tennessee. Grab your tickets (on sale now) right here. Continue reading

Gretchen Piening’s Top 10 Albums Of 2018!

2018 was just like every other year. It felt like it went by at the pace of molasses, and then all of a sudden it’s October. But seriously, this was my first year writing for Metal Nexus and it has been a blast. Reviewing sick albums, interviewing some fabulous people and having to immerse myself into music, helping me enjoy it more and more each day. Honestly, my top 10 list came together a lot easier than I anticipated. Having a handful of metalcore records this year built the 10, basically upon their release. I’m just such a sucker for that sound- hence my #1 pick. Often times I box myself in with what I listen to but keeping an ear open all year helped me to realize that there is beauty and fun in a diverse palette. The Spotify yearly wrap up did a hilarious job of reminding me of just that. So with all that said, here are my picks (begrudgingly without any of the country music I loved this year) for the top 10 rock and metal albums of 2018. Thank you for taking the time to read not just this, but any of my work this year published on Metal Nexus. It sincerely means the world. Metalcore 2019!

 

 

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Jeff Kunze Top 10 Albums Of 2018

 

I thought 2018 was impressive year for releases in metal music. I didn’t matter what genre of metal was your particular taste, there was something for everybody. Every year shows us some promising young talent, bands continuing to climb the ladder, and musical veterans still proving their value in metal hierarchy. This list was extremely difficult as I left out some great stuff by bands like Avatar, Underoath, and Parkway Drive. They say there is Black Sheep in every family, and my list just might be that lost black sheep of the Metal Nexus family. However, I live in Minnesota and wool is a fiber of warmth, and its cold outside, so I’ll deal with it. Continue reading

GHOST Live At Andrew Jackson Hall In Nashville [Review & Photo Gallery]

 

Ghost

Less than five blocks away from the Mother Church of Country Music, there was a sermon being delivered from the stage of the Andrew Jackson Hall that was polar opposite of what most people would expect from Nashville, TN. Just up the street from country twang filled honky-tonks on Broadway, throngs of fans descended upon the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to spend an evening with Ghost who brought their Rats! On the Road tour to Music City USA on May 23rd.

Ghost

In advance of their fourth studio album, titled Prequelle, set to be released on June 1st, Cardinal Copia and the Nameless Ghouls of the Grammy Award winning band Ghost are currently in the middle of a month long US tour bringing their message to the masses during an “evening with” format that features no opening bands but nearly two hours of one the best theatrical and musical performances you may ever witness.
As most Ghost fans know, the identity of the Nameless Ghouls that make up the band remained a mystery up until a 2017 lawsuit resulted in the unmasking of former Ghouls and even Papa Emeritus himself. As a result, and arguably for the better, Ghost frontman Tobias Forge is bringing a much larger production with this tour which now includes more performers, backing vocalists, and even a surprise appearance by a saxophone playing Papa Nihil.

Ghost

With the curtain down and the angelic, yet ominous sounds of Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere Mei, Deus” resonating through the house speakers, members of the flock, beverages in hand, scurry down the aisles to their seats when suddenly a low drone followed by the sounds of children’s voices singing “Ashes” brings a loud roar and a sense of urgency from the congregation. With the bang of a drum and a long open D chord, the curtain rises and soon thereafter we’re treated to “Rats”, the first single off their upcoming album. A dapper, dressed in all black, Cardinal Copia appears and again the crowd erupts. Fist in the air and asking “Are you with us Nashville?” the Cardinal conducts the first of many sing-alongs. Following “Rats”, the band transitions into “Absolution” off their third and most current studio album, Meliora. After a quick “Good Evening Nashville!,” the service continues with back to back songs off their first album, ‘Opus Eponymous’. In between “Ritual” and “Con Clavi Con Dio” the congregation was witness to the first of four outfit changes as the Cardinal was now donning his black robes.

Ghost

After powering through “Per Aspera ad Inferi” and “Devil Church,” we see Cardinal Copia return to his black suit for fan favorite “Cirice.” Midway through the song, a young lady catches the eye of the Cardinal and he drops to a knee, takes her by the hands and serenades her, ending with a kiss on the hand as the chorus ends and the crowd cheers in approval. Then, following another song from deep in their catalog, “Stand by Him,” the congregation is treated to another new song from the forthcoming album, an instrumental called “Miasma.” With dueling guitar harmonies, 80’s classic rock synth, a finger tapping guitar solo, and a light and fog show to match, this song did not disappoint. The cherry on top, literally at the top of the stage, would have to be the moment when two nuns wheeled out a decrepit Papa Nihil, clothed in his traditional white robe and matching embroidered mitre, for a ripping sax solo!

It’s at this point in the performance where we see the charisma of frontman Tobias Forge, excuse me, Cardinal Copia, really shine through. Upon reentering the stage dressed in an all white suit, black hat and cane (think a resurrected Michel Jackson a la Smooth Criminal, just more evil), unimpressed by the reaction of the crowd, the Cardinal asks, “Nashville . . . I do an entrance that rips the fucking carpet apart, and this is what I get? A ripping entrance like that, a bitchin’ entrance, deserves a big cheer! So, uh, let’s do this again, but you need to be quiet. I’ll go hide, and then we’ll do a big cheer. Are you ready (crowd screams)? Then shut the fuck up (laughter erupts)! Ok, here I come!” As you can imagine, a standing ovation all through the theater. A much more pleased Cardinal thanks the crowd and asks them to give themselves a round applause followed by a big round for the Ghouls. Then, the Cardinal along with the bass and guitar players sit down for an acoustic rendition of “Jigolo Har Megiddo,” and the congregation claps along to keep the beat. All that was missing was the campfire. Up next is yet another new track, “Pro Memoria,” a song tailor-made for the musical theater production that Ghost is showcasing on this tour. Wrapping up Act I, yes folks, that was just the first Act of two, was “Deus in Absentia.”

 

Ghost

Following a brief intermission, the curtain rises accompanied by the sounds of a creepy, winding organ straight out of an episode of Scooby-Doo and Act II begins with “Spirit” as Cardinal Copia descends the stage in his red robes. The band barrels straight through and into the chunky bass intro of yet another long time fan favorite, “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” after which the Cardinal took to the pulpit to address the congregation. “How you doing? I hope you took the opportunity to go and, eh, you went to the toilet, right? You’re not standing there like (mimicking a kid with their knees squeezed, needing to pee!). That’s the point, ‘cause we’re gonna rock your asses off for like over two hours! So are you ready to rock now?” He goes on to mention the new record, ‘Prequelle’, coming out on June 1st. “It’s very good . . . very, very good!” Rock our asses off they did, as the band moved right into another new song, “Faith” before continuing on with some older tunes in “Year Zero,” “He Is,” “Prime Mover,” and “Mummy Dust,” the latter of which was supposed to “tickle our taints” and saw a blizzard of confetti shoot from the stage, covering the crowd with what Cardinal Copia jokingly said was “really money and worth shit loads!” Before concluding Act II, the band performs a cover of Roky Erickson’s tune “If You Have Ghosts,” introduces to their sixth new song of the evening with “Dance Macabre” and closes with their first Billboard Mainstream Rock #1 song “Square Hammer.”

After three minutes of applause and chants of “One more song! One more song!” the Cardinal emerges from backstage and encourages the flock to “Go home already.” To which the crowd yells “Nooo!” The Cardinal retorts, “It’s over. We’re done. We’re done rocking! Imagine that I’m already in the shower.” The Cardinal reluctantly acquiesces to the crowd, telling them “You better make this fucking count!” as he then goes into the meaning of the encore song, “Monstrance Clock.” Let’s just say that congregation, from young to old, received a crash course in female “satisfaction.” And with the final notes and chorus of “Monstrance Clock” repeating in the background, an evening with Ghost comes to a rousing climax.

Ghost

Heading into this show I was vaguely familiar with Ghost at best, knowing only the songs that are in rotation on satellite radio. Leaving this show I have to say that Ghost has a new fan. The performances, the music, the mood, the elaborate gothic church backdrop, the theatrics . . . Rats! On the Road really delivered the closest thing to a Broadway musical that a metal head can appreciate! Assuming they will extend their tour upon the release of their new album, ‘Prequelle’, on June 1st, I hope for the sake of those who didn’t attend this run of dates, that Ghost sticks with the “evening with” format as I feel this is the way their music should be consumed.

 

Interview: Puppet Master of Priest says “We’re all very influenced by New Romantics”

While the Scandinavian music scene is one frequently revered and heavily romanticized, – particularly amongst heavy-metal listeners; – one particular group you might not have heard of is the blossoming figurehead of macabre synth-pop, PRIEST. The group, since their incarnation, have consistently sought to experiment with a diverse array of visual and musical stylings. Their upcoming debut album ‘New Flesh’ is scheduled for release on November 17 2017 via Lovely Records. The album was produced by Alpha (ex-GHOST) Continue reading

Editor’s Top 25 Albums of 2015!

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It has been very hard to narrow down all the albums released this year into 25 selections and even harder to put them in order. Some of these albums came as a surprise to me and some I just can’t seem to put down, I love each and every one of these albums for some particular reason. If you haven’t heard one or several of these albums I highly suggest you give them a shot. Continue reading