Live Review -Degenerates Tour with A Day to Remember, I Prevail, Beartooth

It’s always fun to watch a long-term successful band play during their prime years. So pop-metalcore band A Day to Remember (ADTR) brought their Degenerates tour to Place Bell in Montreal on November 5, 2019. Also featuring I Prevail, Beartooth and Can’t Swim, the evening promised to be a long evening filled with chart topping rock hits and It did not disappoint.
But bands can’t do it alone if the audience doesn’t bring in the energy. The modest crowd were clearly true metalcore fans as the floor area of the show clearly came to mosh – a trademark staple for this genre of music and something ADTR has built their name on throughout their careers.
As headliners go, ADTR have been around since 2003 and have paid their dues. Their 90 minute setlist played the hits (with some notable omissions) but with the upcoming release of their seventh album, You’re Welcome, ADTR had a large catalogue of songs to fit in and did not waste any time opening with “The Downfall of us All” and then immediately breaking into “All I Want”. With the mosh pit kicking into gear, ADTR played “Mr. Highway”, “Paranoia and Sticks and Stones”. Lead singer Jeremy McKinnon then encouraged the crowd to surf the crowd surfer, where someone stands on another crowd surfer and surfs them like a surfboard. Following an immediate “safety” warning, people proceeded to surf the crowd surfer to some funny live footage shots on the background screen.
“Better off this way” kicked off next to “Right Back at it Again”. ADTR gave the audience a foreshadow of their upcoming album by playing their first single off the album, “Degenerates”. “Bullfight”, “Sometimes You’re the Hammer” and then the tempo slowed through to “End of Me” until McKinnon encouraged the crowd the thrash to old-school metal and then “2nd sucks” cranked out closing with “I’m Made of Wax”. Encores included an acoustic of “If it Means a Lot to You”, “All signs Point to Lauderdale”, and “The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle”.

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Not to be missed out, and hardly an opening act, I Prevail set the tone with a metalcore performance of their own. Fresh off the success of their second album Trauma, singers Brian Burkheiser and Eric Vanlerberghe needed little effort to pump up the crowd who were chanting “I Prevail” many times in between songs. Playing mostly songs off of Trauma, they also mixed in “Scars” and “Come and Get it” from their debut album Lifelines. The reaction they received from the crowd and the energy in the mosh pit was equal to what ADTR received. They will certainly be playing again in Montreal.
Beartooth is a band from Michigan who have just released their third album, Disease. Their sound is described as a mix of metalcore with nu metal. Can’t Swim opened the evening. They are from New Jersey and released an album titled This Too Won’t Pass, on November 16, 2018

Live Review -Crazytown X In Montreal !

Throughout the history of music, there has been many examples of musical artists or performers who have had a successful song or album and, for whatever reasons, have not been able to duplicate their previous success. Sometimes, artists dubbed “one-hit wonders” in a particular country have had great success in other countries. Others break into other facets of industry such as production or management. And some, like CRAZYTOWN, continue to tour based on their prior success to small audiences, like the one in Montreal on November 3, 2019.

It’s not to say that CRAZYTOWN is bad, after all, their debut album THE GIFT OF GAME was a platinum seller based on the success of their #1 international single “Butterfly”. Their follow-up album, DARKHORSE in 2002 failed to achieve the same level of success, contributing to the band’s break-up in 2003. They reunited in 2015 to record BRIMSTONE SLUGGERS but separated again in 2017. Original member Shifty Shellshock rebranded the band into CRAZYTOWN X and continues to perform the bands hits.

And with only about 30 people in the audience, which included friends and the opening bands, Shifty with Roland Banks on drums and Elias Tannous on guitars with bass and mixes pre-recorded, they gave a high energy performance. A product of rap-metal from the early 2000’s, CRAZYTOWN X singles contained interesting experimental music as many of their songs contained different styles of mixes to go along with the popularity of the musical genre at the time. And Shifty performed admirably in that style, playing a random order of their songs from THE GIFT OF GAME and BRIMSTONE SLUGGERS. Their set opened with Black Cloud leading into Darkside, both from GIFT OF GAME before kicking it into Lemonface from BRIMSTONE SLUGGERS and then Lollipop Porn. Surprisingly, the played “Butterfly” next. Afterwards, they played (in no order) Megatron, Born to Raise hell and songs from DARKHORSE. They even played an encore, finishing the evening with “Revolving Door” and “Toxic”. Shifty then stayed for pictures and to chat with people. It was a very entertaining performance.

Opening for CRAZYTOWN X was a band Called BLACK OXYGEN from Kansas City. Formed by brothers David and Nick Lyle, they were a two-piece band whose style was reminiscent of Swirl 360 – a previous band form the late 90’s who had a “one-hit-wonder”. The band has released four Albums “The Times of Our Lives (Collection)”, “City Of Angels” EP, “Beating Time”, and “The American Dream”.

Warming up the crowd was SPECIAL OPS, a local Montreal rock band who are releasing their fifth(!) album in November 2019. First formed in 2002, the band is currently composed of lead singer A.K. Johnson (Sam Odeh), guitarists Alex Crowe and Christopher Groulx, bassist Waldo Thornhill, and drummer Manuel Bessette.

Album Review -Wizards of Winter – The Christmas Dream – Album

As the autumn leaves change color and fall to the ground, the weather becomes colder with the Halloween costumes put back into the closet, the preparation for winter and the holiday season begins. And so, the time begins for Christmas shopping as both online and retail stores brace for the annual gift giving season. Christmas music comes alive in malls, restaurants and radio. And with that, comes annual releases of holiday themed music by musical artists.

Less of a band and more of a musical performance, THE WIZARDS OF WINTER are an annual progressive rock holiday tour founded in 2009 by Scott Kelly, Sharon Kelly and Steve Ratchen as a way to give back to the local community (see THE WIZARDS OF WINTER pages for scheduling and ticket info). In 2019, they have grown to consist of multi-musicians with a range of musical backgrounds such as former members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult, Ted Nugent, The Irish Tenors, lead vocalist and auxiliary keyboardist Alexis Smith, and last but not least, lead guitarist Steve Brown. They have also released their third album, THE CHRISTMAS DREAM, which contains 10 new original songs.

THE CHRISTMAS DREAM is essentially a creation of, well, traditional Christmas songs. But it isn’t necessarily an album but more of a soundtrack to an artistic performance. Containing original written and composed Christmas songs set to a range of musical compositions and pieces, THE CHRISTMAS DREAM contains a mix of contemporary to progressive rock music. Sharon Kelly’s vocal performance is similar to other traditional musical song performances and stands out in songs featuring her vocals like “Gonna Snow” with Kornelia Rad leading the accompanying string section. On the male side of things, Vincent Jiovino had more “traditional” Bing Crosby-like vocals and led songs such as “A Toast to Time”. Karl Scully, another vocalist, also contributed to songs such as “In Plain Sight”. “Christmas Dream” was a musical reworking of Salzburg Chamber Orchestra reworkings of Mozart. Other songs like “Four Kings” were reworkings of traditional Christmas stories.

THE CHRISTMAS DREAM is an album containing original Christmas songs from an original Christmas performance. Therefore, as soundtracks go, it’s the live performance that provides the experience and the music provides the memories of the experience which is what THE CHRISTMAS DREAM does. Although, it may not replace The Carpenters in grandma’s annual holiday playlist, what THE CHRISTMAS DREAM provides is a great holiday stocking stuffer for any music lover to be placed atop the fireplace mantel on Christmas Eve waiting to be opened the next morning while the family dines on holiday turkey and yams.

Live Review- The Crystal Method -Montreal Canada

Montreal ,Canada -As this decade ends, we can begin to reminisce about the special things in the 2010’s such as fidget spinners, Farmville and cornrows. And as the 2020’s roll in, we can prepare for 2000’s nostalgia fazes. But that decade hasn’t started yet and as we are still in 2019, there is still time for late 1990’s nostalgia and nothing says 1990’s such as electro beat music. So more than 20 years later, THE CRYSTAL METHOD is still playing and lighting up the club.

The Crystal Method originally had two members, Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland. However, in early 2017, Ken Jordan decided to retire from music, and left The Crystal Method. Scott Kirkland continues to produce and play shows under the CRYSTAL METHOD name and has released a new album, THE TRIP HOME, last year.

Playing to a multi-generational crowd at the Foufounes Electriques in Montreal, Kirkland clearly had experience in playing to his audience. He performed a 2-hour set starting at midnight as the crowd started to enter the venue at 11:30 in the evening. Kirkland, a well-known Star Wars fan, in a tight black T-shirt with a storm trooper pic and what looked like white sunglasses worn backwards but was actually his headphones draped over his eyes. He mixed songs on several turntables and with lots of electronic and Crystal Method favorites such as “Name of the Game” “Busy Child,” “High Roller,” “Trip Like I Do”– and 20th century hits including Clash’s “Should I stay or should I go”, Beastie Boys “Intergalactic” and “No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn”, The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” and The Cars “You’re all that I got tonight”.

Kirkland remained animated throughout his set, turning knobs with gusto, using lots of hand gestures, and playing air guitar and air drums. Kirkland was there to perform and maintained a live energy level few performers can achieve. This was evident as he made his way into the crowd to sign autographs and pose for pictures with the audience. A true rarity nowadays.

So, as this decade ends, it’s good to know that the influences of it’s past is still going strong today and that twenty years later, some things have aged like fine wine.

Album Review- Blame Zeus – Seethe

Portugal is the oldest country in Europe, renown for its port wine, piri-piri chicken and surfing. Although established Portuguese bands who had begun their careers during the 1980s and 1990s are still around, much like in other European and Anglo-American countries, the rise of hip-hop, dance music and more pop-oriented acts predominate the current music scene. So, it is quite an accomplishment for BLAME ZEUS, a female-lead rock/alternative band from Oporto, Portugal to make a name for themselves on the international scene. With their third album titled “Seethe” set for release November 8 on Rockshots Records, BLAME ZEUS is breaking into the North American market with their first single “The Warden” available on all music streaming services.

“Seethe” is a ten-track album produced by Ricardo Fernandes. Featuring Sandra Oliveira on vocals,
Paulo Silva and Tiago Lascasas on guitar, Celso Oliveira on bass and Ricardo Silveira on drums, Seethe provides a mix of raw, edgy songs with melodic choruses, harmonies and two ballads. Sandra Oliveira’s spectrum of notes is evident starting with the album’s opening track “How to successfully implode” and carrying through to “Down to our bones” as she, along with her brother Celso on bass, played with synchronistic harmony and flow. The fourth song “White” and the ninth “The Warden” were ballads that are playable for Rock Radio and Easy Alternative music playlists, respectively. Songs like “Bloodstained Hands” and “No” had melodic choruses reminiscent of 1990’s alt-rock music.

Lyrically, “Seethe” deals with traditional alternative music issues such as pain, unexpressed anger and encouragement to express your opinions, voice and identity. Musically, “Seethe” provides a darker, edgier sound then past BLAME ZEUS albums with crisp riffs from Silva and Lascasas set to intense rhythms by Oliveira and Silveira. With influences that range from blues to metal, their music can be described as an intense and heavy rock, but also with intimate and nostalgic ballads.

Since forming in 2010, the band’s two previous releases “Identity’ (2014) (Raising Legends Records) and “Theory of Perception” (2017) have garnered much praise in their home country along with securing opening slots with bands Lacuna Coil, Moonspell, Cradle of Filth, Cellar Darling, R.A.M.P. among many others established acts. In 2018, they were invited to perform at Vagos Metal Fest, one of Portugal’s biggest heavy festivals. Follow them on social media for North American appearances to support “Seethe”.

Motorhead – 1979 Boxed Set Review

In a here-today gone-tomorrow music industry utilising streaming and social media as platforms to reach an audience, it is getting more difficult to remember a time where bands made a name for themselves through recording quality albums. And it is even more difficult to keep a band together for over four decades. Mick Jagger has done it with the Rolling Stones – Bono with U2 is another. And so has Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister. Although MOTORHEAD has had alternating members, Lemmy is synonymous with the name MOTORHEAD equally as Jagger and Bono are with theirs.

So almost four years after the tragic demise of Lemmy, MOTORHEAD and BMG have released the “1979” boxed-set, consisting of Both the original Overkill and Bomber albums half-speed mastered and pressed on 180 gram vinyl created from the original master tapes, Two double-live albums of previously unheard concert material from the ’79 tours, The Rest of ’79 Vinyl, featuring B-sides, outtakes and rare tracks, A 40-page period-accurate “music magazine” featuring unseen photos and fresh interviews regarding the era amongst other goodies and surprises from the vault.

As the majority of the MOTORHEAD catalogue is available on music streaming and video services nowadays, the advantages to box sets nowadays isn’t the compilation of all MOTORHEAD’s hits, but the availability of all the music and video in a consistent and high-quality audio and video formats. The “1979” boxed set was compiled with “the assistance of key people who were part of their ’79 circle of friends, crew, and accomplices”. Available on the MOTORHEAD website, these releases have been created with the full cooperation and involvement of the estates of Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, “Fast” Eddie Clarke and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. The “1979” Boxed set will be available October 25, 2019.

Track Listings
Disc: 1
1. Overkill
2. Stay Clean
3. (I Won’t) Pay Your Price
4. I’ll Be Your Sister
5. Capricorn

Disc: 2
1. No Class
2. Tear Ya Down
3. Limb from Limb

Disc: 3
1. Overkill (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
2. Stay Clean (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
3. Keep Us On the Road (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
4. No Class (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
5. Leaving Here (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)

Disc: 4
1. Iron Horse / Born to Lose (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
2. Metropolis (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
3. The Watcher (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
4. Damage Case (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)

Disc: 5
1. (I Won’t) Pay Your Price [Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979]
2. Capricorn (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
3. Too Late, Too Late (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
4. I’ll Be Your Sister (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)

Disc: 6
1. I’m Your Witchdoctor (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
2. Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
3. Limb from Limb (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
4. White Line Fever (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)
5. Motörhead (Live at Aylesbury Friars, 31st March 1979)

Disc: 7
1. Dead Men Tell No Tales
2. Lawman
3. Sweet Revenge
4. Sharpshooter
5. Poison

Disc: 8
1. Stone Dead Forever
2. All the Aces
3. Step Down
4. Talking Head
5. Bomber

Disc: 9
1. Overkill (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
2. Stay Clean (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
3. No Class (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
4. Metropolis (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)

Disc: 10
1. All the Aces (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
2. Dead Men Tell No Tales (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
3. I’ll Be Your Sister (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
4. Lawman (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
5. Too Late, Too Late (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)

Disc: 11
1. Poison (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
2. (I Won’t) Pay Your Price [Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979]
3. Sharpshooter (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
4. Capricorn (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
5. Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)

Disc: 12
1. Bomber (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
2. Limb from Limb (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
3. White Line Fever (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)
4. Motörhead (Live at Le Mans, 3rd November 1979)

Disc: 13
1. Too Late Too Late
2. Like a Nightmare (B-Side – “No Class” Single)
3. Over the Top (7” Single B-Side)
4. Stone Dead Forever (Alternate Version)
5. Sharpshooter (Alternate Version)

Disc: 14
1. Bomber (Alternate Version)
2. Step Down (Alternate Version)
3. Fun On the Farm (Bomber Outtake)
4. Treat Me Nice (Bomber Outtake)
5. You Ain’t Gonna Live Forever (Bomber Outtake)

Disc: 15
1. No Class

Disc: 16
1. Like a Nightmare (B-Side – “No Class” Single)

Disc: 17
1. Like a Nightmare (Demo)

Disc: 18
1. Poison (Demo)

Album Review- Grim Reaper -At The Gates

There is an old expression that if you put 10000 hours into something, you are an expert. Therefore, after 40 years of experience, perhaps you can be considered a legend. Despite the fact that Grim Reaper have been active for over four decades and were part of the wave of British heavy metal with the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, they still remain below the radar of popularity behind their counterparts. Nevertheless, led by Steve Grimmett, Grim Reaper continues to tour and record with a new lineup consisting of bassist Julian Hill and drummer Mark Pullin, alongside Steve and his long-term collaborator, guitarist Ian Nash. Which brings us to their new album scheduled for release October 25, 2019 titled “At The Gates”.

As with all bands with a new lineup and 40 years of experience under the belt, Grim Reaper is a different band since their beginnings in 1979 and their new album reflects that. At The Gates provides the listener with a mature and emotional experience centered around classic Heavy Metal riffs from the days of yore. This is evident straight from the album-titled, opening track and carries through the albums first ten tracks. Guitarist Nash leads each song with trademark lead riff and only “What Lies Beneath” opens with a more classic late ‘70’s hammering sound found in heavy metal music of it’s time. The final track “Shadows of the Dark” provides a different sound compared to the rest of the CD with an opening sound of chanting before a lyrical story of personal inflection begins.

Lyrically, this album is different then many heavy metal albums but is relatable to the audience who have followed Grim Reaper over the decades. At The Gates deals with the difficulties of life of people who have experienced times of despair and uncertainty. Recorded after the tragic health situations of Steve Grimmett, the feelings expressed within the CD touch an emotional nerve with those who have experienced similar situations themselves or those of someone they have loved.

At The Gates is a quality British Heavy Metal album filled with solid musical leads and riffs equal to their iron Maiden and Judas priest counterparts. It is also a different album then previous Grim Reaper albums with Steve Grimmett’s timeless vocals being the primary link between past and present. Hill and Pulin play solid rhythm’s with Nash’s riffs being strong and scintillating throughout the album. As with all bands who have undergone personnel changes, new members bring new concepts providing At The Gates with a sound with a more modern edge then albums past and sometimes, change is good.

Please see their official website for the details  at http://www.facebook.com/grimreaperofficial

Live Review – RATT, Warrant, FireHouse & Kix at Tag’s Summer Stage

Big Flats, NY-Its mid-September, a few weeks after Labor Day, kids are in school and the leaves are changing colors. Fall is in the air but summer is not over at the annual Tag’s Summer Stage in Big Flats, NY. This year’s event featured a bill of the top bands from the 1980’s – Ratt, Warrant, Kix band and Firehouse. The sold out crowd was hot and ready for the evening, and not just because of the unseasonably warm 86 degree weather outside. With an evening containing over a combined 50 top 40 hits and tens of millions of albums sold, summer was clearly not over just yet.

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Opening up the evening, but hardly an opening band, Kix the band played all their hits. The Boys from Baltimore came out in full force with lead singer Steve Whiteman strutting and performing with the same energy and enthusiasm he has since the beginning of the band. The crowd sang enthusiastically, knowing all the lyrics to their hits from their platinum selling Blow My Fuse album and their successful follow up, Hot Wire. Kix concluded their 45 minute set to applause as they thanked the people for supporting them over the years .

20190921_190116The next act was American Music Award Winning band from Virginia, Firehouse. The band reached stardom during the early 1990s with hit singles like “Reach for the Sky”, “Don’t Treat Me Bad” and “All She Wrote”, as well as their signature power ballad “Love of a Lifetime”, which had fans slow dancing on stage during the performance. Firehouse, who still tour extensively overseas, played a seamless set befitting a band who has been together for over 20 years.

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As the sun began to set, Warrant came in to light up the night. The Down Boys from California tore into the crowd, playing all their rocking hits and ballads from their platinum selling albums D.R.F.S.R. and Cherry Pie. Front man Robert Mason has cemented himself as Warrant’s lead singer since the unfortunate passing of Jani Lane and he also sung the title song of their 2017 album “Louder, Harder, Faster” which had the crowd singing aloud. He performed with an energy and style that has epitomized Warrant since the days of the sunset strip and is part of why Warrant is still touring extensively.
Closing the evening were one of the creators of the 80’s hair rock bands sound, RATT. Party arena rock anthems were their trademark and lead singer Stephen Pearcy showed the crowd why by playing in a traditional 80’s sequined outfit, arousing cheers from the women in the crowd. Original member Juan Croucier led the band, consisting of new members Jordan Ziff, Chris Sanders and Pete Holmes as the group performed classic RATT choreographed performances complete with twirls and leg kicks. The set concluded, naturally, with their biggest hit, Round and Round which had the crowd dancing until the end of the show. Pearcy thanked everyone for the party RATT has enjoyed over the years and here is hoping there are a few more parties to come.

POP Evil review – Watertown NY – Sept 15, 2019

Watertown , NY-The air was thick with anticipation and heat from a summerlike day in Watertown, NY as a packed house at the Exhibition Hall was ready for an intimate early evening Sunday rock show headlined by POP Evil.  And the boys from Muskegon, Michigan (and lady from London) did not disappoint as they rocked a full 2 hour set with an energy that POP Evil have made a trademark of all their performances.

Pop Evil live on stage
Pop Evil live on stage

POP Evil played their full setlist of hits spanning over the last two decades and included a few special fan requests such as PURPLE from their War of Angels album and When We Were Young from their latest self-titled album.  Frontman Leigh Kakaty’s vocals were in full effect with Matt DiRito and Hayley Cramer’s pounding percussions keeping fists in the air.  Dave Grahs and Nick Fuelling rhythms kept the rock hungry crowd going.  Breaks between the songs were short and showcased the humility and gratitude that has earned POP Evil respect worldwide by thanking everyone for coming out and supporting Rock acknowledging that it’s music for the people and appreciating everyone for coming out.

Pop Evil on Stage
Pop Evil on Stage
Pop Evil on Stage
Pop Evil on Stage

Opening act Royal Tusk were perfect in setting the tone for the evening.  Riding high on the rock radio success of their first single AFTERMATH off their Royal Tusk II album, the band from Edmonton, Alberta Canada showed why they are considered one of today’s up-and-coming groups.  This was the second time they have toured with POP Evil, the first one being part of the Canadian leg of POP Evil’s tour in 2018.  With this exposure in the United States, Royal Tusk is a band sure to be heard by everyone soon enough.

Warming up the evening was BRKN Love, a young band from Toronto, Canada who have just released their first single Shot Down on Spotify.  With a sound blending classic 90’s alternative rock with modern day heavy riffs, this is a band soon to be heard on rock radio.