With the advent of music streaming, it’s hard for bands to stay relevant nowadays and as we approach the 2020’s, it’s even harder for young bands who started after the days where CD sales ruled the roost. So with the launch and headlining world tour in support of their third album BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION, it should be commended that ISSUES tried to mix things up a bit to appeal to a larger audience.
An American metalcore band founded in 2012 and based in Atlanta, Georgia, the band currently consists of lead vocalist Tyler Carter, guitarist/vocalist AJ Rebollo, bassist Skyler Acord, and drummer Josh Manuel. They are known for their combination of metalcore, nu metal, pop and contemporary R&B. The self-titled debut album, ISSUES, climbed to #9 on the Billboard charts in 2012 based on a DJ infused metalcore sound which was unique to the market at the time. But things evolve and on December 4, Issues brought their Beautiful Oblivion tour to Club Soda in Montreal, Canada.
Playing all 13 tracks as well as their singles from their first 2 albums, ISSUES played an electrifying set covering all the checklists required for metalcore bands from hand pumping to encouraging moshing. What was fascinating was the standout differences between the songs from their earlier work to BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION. From a traditional metalcore sound to a more broader pop-synced sound found in BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION, it shows that ISSUES tried to make themselves appealing to the larger, commercial audience – with a large amount of success. BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION songs such as Tapping out and Drink About It blended perfectly with the set while the more dance-like song Flexin’ fell flat as it required a pre-recorded background beat to which the band hand to play to instead of creating their own sound with their performance. R & B songs like Without You and Get It Right were capable of getting the crowd going like COMA does. The crowd did not slow down to the slower song like Rain, Your Sake, Beautiful Oblivion or Downfall.
With the thirteen song from BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION, as well as Stingray Affliction, COMA, Never Lose Your Flames, The Realest, Slow me Down and, Mad At Myself as encore – ISSUES played a full setlist for their show and the energy did not stop from beginning to end. Although they still have far to go to be a “headliner”, their intent and drive to become one was apparent that evening.
Opening for ISSUES was POLYPHIA, a progessive rock band from Dallas, Texas. Not familiar with the prog rock scene, POLYPHIA were touring in support of their album NEW LEVELS NEW DEVILS released in 2018. A young band, yet were formed in 2010, played a melodic rock sound similar to bands like Supertramp but had no vocals.
Many aspects of heavy metal music have historically originated through Gothic culture dating back to the 18th century. Many classic literary novels were also born through that culture including Edgar Allen Poe’s work in the 19th century. For those who have forgotten high school English classes, he is an author most known for his novel “The Raven” which has been popularised many times throughout Culture from movies, video games and even The Simpsons. So naturally, the time has come for heavy metal music and The Raven to merge forming RavenWord, an Italian symphonic power metal band who are releasing their first album, Transcendence, out January 31 via Rockshots Records.
Consisting of singer Chiara Tricarico (Sound Storm, Moonlight Haze), drummer Michele Olmi (Chronosfear, Skeleeton) and bass/guitar player Cesare Ferrari (Choirs Of Veritas) , RavenWord captures the romantic and decadent poetic themes typical of Edgar Allan Poe’s period, combined with an equally decadent symphonic metal sound. Containing 13 tracks, Transcendence plays out to a similar style compared with other European metal bands with crisp toned vocals, polished guitar solos and quick bass rhythms.
Starting off the bat with the opening track Blue Roses to the third track (and opening single) No More, Tricarico carries the songs using her mezzo-sopranic voice. Handling all of the axe work, Ferrari notes were produced and synced well creating a seamless transition between the three tracks. The Fourth track, Lullaby Of The Last Petal is when things slow down with Tricarico lowering her voice to more soprano level and keeping that range to the fifth track, Purity. The tempo picks up by the sixth track, Rain of Stars, after a brief piano solo. The rest of the album follows the same formula with The Swansong replacing Lullaby of the Last Petal on the ballad list. The stand out song was The Distance, the twelfth song on the album which contained subtle Celtic overtones at the beginning which created a stand out effect from the rest.
Transcedence is a well produced and organized album with consistent and clear sound from each artist. Riffs and Rythmns are distinctly separate with Tricarico’s notes coming in distinct and clear while remaining in the same key. The album features a calm, haunting sound with an underlying beauty, similar to themes found in Edgar Allen Poe literature. With her signature vocal style, Tricario tells stories of love, intrigue and fear while keeping in form with modern European metal style. With Transcendence, RavenWord captures the romantic and decadent poetic themes typical of Edgar Allan Poe’s period, combined with an equally decadent symphonic metal sound.
Cleveland , Ohio – The cold and windy gusts blowing off Lake Erie last week were not a deterrent for the music fans that descended on The House of Blues for a night of great music . The band Stitched Up Heart returned to the north coast in support capacity for Steel Panther and it was a winning combo .
I had the opportunity to do an exclusive interview with singer Alecia ‘Mixi’ Demner which will be posted in a separate article , it is not to be missed .
The stage was dark and ominous at Stitched Up Heart took it over like a smooth military operation immediately kicking into high gear with the song ” This Thing ” and pleased fans and gained new ones in the mix .
The opening of ” Stranger Things Theme ” ( A TV show I adore ) really was a nice addition to the anticipation of the night as well . My favorite songs played were of course ” Warrior” , ” Monster ” and ” Catch Me When I Fall”
The band has gone thru a few line up changes until the right mix of dedication , ability and personality emerged triumphant , Stitched Up Heart is
- Alecia ‘Mixi’ Demner – lead vocals (2010–present)
- James Decker – drums/backing vocals (2012–present)
- Merritt Goodwin – lead guitar (2012–present)
- Randy Mathias – bass/backing vocals (2014–present)
If you don’t believe there are not any new bands coming thru , then you are in for a shock , because this band is one of the best around . In support of their upcoming release ” Darkness ” they are sure to be stopping by a city near you soon .
Make sure you check out the official site at http://stitchedupheart.org/
A number of heavy metal genres have developed since the emergence of heavy metal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some genres overlap or are difficult to distinguish, but they can be identified by a number of traits such as drumming, tempo, song structure, vocal style and instrumentation. And that is what Montreal received on November 27, 2019 as Finnish folk metal legends Ensiferum came to tour with supporting acts Kalmah and Abigail Williams for a four-hour mixed evening of European and American heavy metal.
It has been well documented that Heavy Metal fans are a very dedicated and passionate bunch and the energy was raw as Ensiferum opened their headlining set. First founded in 1995, they are a Finnish folk band with 7 albums released. Through many personnel changes, they have continued to play and record music based on Nordic concepts and stories. Opening with riffs off of “Ad Victoriam”, lead singer markus Toivenen cranked the riffs for “Blood is the Price of Glory” and then through gas on a hot crowd with “One More Magic Potion”. “Token of Time”, “From Afar” and “Smoking Ruins”. Taking a break to salute a crowd chanting Ensiferum, guitarist Petri Loondis started “Two of Spades” with “Heathen Horde” next. Still chanting Ensiferum, the crowd jumped to “For those about to Fight for Metal”. Toivenen quieted down the crowd for a tribute to fallen warriors over the world before “Way of the Warrior” played. “Burning Leaves”, “In My Sword I Trust”, “Ahti” and “Victory Song” closed the set with “Hero in a Dream” and “Lai lai Hai” playing out an encore that finished right at midnight.
Supporting act Kalmah could have been mistaken for the headlining band with the reaction they received. Playing what amounted to almost an hour-long set, they played their songs from their 8 album history since 1998. Opening with “Swamphell”, the crowd was pumped. “The Evil Kin” and “Moon of the Knights” followed suit. Pausing to give a quick background of the band, lead singer Pekka Kokko clearly didn’t understand that Kalmah needed no introduction here in Montreal. Appreciating the roars of support, he kicked into “They Will Return” before playing the single (and title) of their latest album “Seventh Swamphony”. “Heroes to Us, “The Third, the Magical” and the “Black Waltz” followed before Kokko had to remind the audience that they were the “supporting” act. They crowd roared as Kalmah played their last song of the evening, “Hades” and they chanted for more.
Opening the evening was “Abigail Williams”, a black metal band from Olympia, WA founded by Ken Sorceron. Fresh off the release of their fourth album “Walk Beyond the Dark”, they played a memorable and entrancing performance filled with rapturous bursts of string accompaniments with melancholic tones of shadow and despair. Powerful guitars by Bryon O’Sullivan shifted between slithering rhythms, contemplative grooves and all-out assaults of pure metal riffs. Playing through an eight song playlist, Sorceron proved that he is the heart, soul and mind of Abigail Williams.
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”.
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
Cleveland, Ohio- A winter storm blew into the north coast but that in no way was going to deter they sold out audience at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Field House from tonight’s concert .This being the final and farewell tour for Elton John this was a night that very few will ever forget . The popular singer is still riding high from this years biopic ” Rocketman ” of his life and this is the second leg of his tour and his last stop in Cleveland and the sold out crowd could not have been more thrilled .
The night started off with Bennie and the Jets and continued for close to three hours . The iconic line from the Spinal Tap film ” Hello Cleveland ” was of course produced but from Elton it really seamed genuine . Some of my favorite songs were ” Tiny Dancer ” , ” Daniel ” which brought a tear to my eye and of course ” Candle in the Wind ” for which made many a fan cry .
Elton’s band were top notch musicians as well , each a skilled artist in their own right . I can understand why Elton will be retired from the road , he honestly moved a little stiff on stage but damn he is 72 and he moves better then I do so he deserves a whole lot of slack . He still rocked for almost three hours .
If you are anywhere that he will be performing on this final leg , run don’t walk and get a ticket you will want to say you say him when he was still on top of his game and ladies and gentleman , he commands the game .
I can honestly say I was very glad to be part of this final tour and see him perform and as Elton says , love one another .
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.
Its a show not to be missed . Four out of four stars .
Akron, Ohio- The Goodyear Theatre was the perfect venue for a concert and Tom Keifer of Cinderella came to rock ! The band was on tour supporting their brand new release ” Rise “which is getting both critical and fan praise since it’s release last month .
Tom played an impressive fifteen song set and with the support acts of Enuff Z’Nuff and Billy Morris you were presented with a four hour show . Now that is what I call a night out on the town .
The set opened up with ” Touching The Divine ” and continued with hit after hit , both classic songs and a new to be classic hits . Songs such as ” Night Songs ” ” Shake Me ” and ” You Don’t Know What You Got (Till Its Gone) ” .The new material included ” Rise ” and ” Death of Me ”
Tom is a great performer along with being a powerful singer and song writer and he surrounds himself with nothing but the best artists around . Tom’s band features Tom Keifer – Vocals, Guitar, Keys Savannah Keifer – Vocals, Percussion, Piano Tony Higbee – Guitar, Vocals… Billy Mercer – Bass guitar, Vocals Kendra Chantelle – Vocals, Percussion Jarred Pope – Drums, Vocals Kory Myers – Keyboards.
The bands shows are always exciting and each member gives it their 100% on stage . If you see Tom listed at a venue near you make sure you get out and see him , its a show not to be missed . Four out of four stars .
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.