Tyrants Unleashed: Skeletonwitch, Iron Reagan & Oathbreaker Perform At The Roxy

By Lisa Burke


October 11th 2016, The Roxy, West Hollywood CA: Just when you think you’ve all but discovered every heavy metal band out there worth knowing, you end up witnessing something that inspires you yet again. This is why arriving at shows early when possible is a wise idea, because not only do you get more for your money, but you end up with a larger music collection and the extra knowledge to feed your corrupted brain with. On Tuesday October 11th 2016 at the Roxy Theatre I attended the Skeletonwitch show with support from Iron Reagan, Oathbreaker, Necrot and Gatecreeper. Continue reading

Reborn With A Vengeance: Chris Broderick & Shawn Drover’s Act Of Defiance Headlines Complex

By Lisa Burke


October 8th 2016, Complex, Glendale CA: Getting out of the Hollywood/West Hollywood metal scene once in a while is a refreshing change of pace as long as you are going to make up for the potential lack of metal by seeing metal anyway, in Glendale at Complex run by Church Of The 8th Day. Saturday night I did just that for a great line-up and solid dosage of heavy metal featuring headliners Act Of Defiance with support from Hatchet, Crowned By Fire and Fracture. If you have no idea what happened to guitarist Chris Broderick after Megadeth you are about to find out, since he still has the power to steal a show with his riffing talents as he did on this evening with his new project Act Of Defiance. Continue reading

Transcending Boundaries: Devin Townsend & Between The Buried And Me Bring Co-headline Tour To Los Angeles

By Lisa Burke


October 6th 2016, The Novo, Los Angeles CA: The world of progressive heavy metal has become such a varied and broad spectrum even just within the last ten years, and it may be one of the most intimidating misunderstood complexities that must defy the rules in the most fascinating way when creatively masterminded by brilliance. If that doesn’t paint the picture to your clarity, then perhaps listening to Devin Townsend singing and playing guitar will help. On Thursday October 6th 2016, ‘Hevy Devy’ and his gang rode through town stopping at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles, and alongside his current players performing under the name Devin Townsend Project, were co-headliners Between The Buried And Me and opening act Fallujah. This combination and recent album releases from all three bands really brought out the progressive and ambient elements to the foreground, although Devin Townsend always manages to mix in the perfect amount of heavy to keep the audience from moshing like ballerinas as a few may have done during Between The Buried And Me. I unfortunately missed the early set by Fallujah on this occasion so I will not be able to provide much in the way of insight into their live performance since I’ve yet to see one, but I am intrigued.

Between The Buried And Me

Between The Buried And Me

Between The Buried And Me has played with Devin Townsend before in reverse order I believe, and it was interesting that even though their set times were almost equal in length, Between The Buried And Me seemed to play for two hours while Devin Townsend Project seemingly played for two minutes. I’ll explain why soon enough, but first it must be noted that Between the Buried And Me was playing their latest 2016 released album “Coma Ecliptic” in its entirety. This is by far their most progressive and avant-garde work of art to date, and having not seen or heard much of them in the past four years or so, I was expecting much more death and metalcore elements to come into play, yet they were very few, far between, and subtle. The first half of the set was pleasant enough with vocalist/keyboardist Tommy Rogers’ good range from death to clean, and the progressive elements of the deep groovy bass and complementing guitar parts meshed in acceptably with what the intent seemed to be. There are some great moments in the majority of the songs that are very artsy in style, and if you don’t quite understand it, perhaps you just aren’t ready for it as it may be ahead of its time. Those moments do defy some laws and push boundaries and that is a very positive aspect to consider. The other half of that equation is a combination of two ordeals that may or may not be your fancy. The first is the special lighting they used which was all clear back lighting coming from eye level if you were on the floor level, and guess what constant blinking bright lights in your eyes do when you have no option to look away? Well, for starters, they create chaos in the brain and when the music starts to take on a direction of progressive jargon, it becomes sort of the same feeling as if someone put you on the Scrambler ride at the amusement park and wouldn’t let you off until you puked or had an aneurysm. I probably would have done better with a mash-up of songs from other albums included, even though I definitely commend any band who does attempt the feat of one whole album as a live set.

Between The Buried And Me set list:
01. Node
02. The Coma Machine
03. Dim Ignition
04. Famine Wolf
05. King Redeem / Queen Serene
06. Turn on the Darkness
07. The Ectopic Stroll
08. Rapid Calm
09. Memory Palace
10. Option Oblivion
11. Life in Velvet

Devin Townsend Project

Devin Townsend Project

Moving on to the best torture of the evening that most people miss out on is the PA songs that happen before Devin Townsend Project takes the stage. If you aren’t aware, Devin Townsend has created a dual life for himself, noticeable in his various albums as well as identities that breaks down further into individual songs having that duel between slightly comedic heavy metal and progressive ambience. He often twiddles away at multiple projects at a time that has included the maddeningly genius creation of the Ziltoid radio concept of an alien coming to earth who runs his radio station. He obviously created albums around Ziltoid and before his solo performances he seems to have a special track list made up of some of the most ridiculous and most annoying yet hilarious songs in mainstream radio today, some of which he has reworked into his own version, I believe, and it works to provide an even greater release for when his true brilliance graces the stage. Nowadays we are so used to hearing odd crap music between sets thanks to the apparently schizophrenic DJs and sound dudes that enjoy messing with your head out there, that it may have gone a bit unnoticed this time around. There is not much denial involved, however, in listening to a ridiculous hip-hop song about spaghetti that kind of struck a funny bone with me as it seemed to be sung by Devin Townsend himself in another universe. The live set he played was in support of his newest album ‘Transcendence’ which as far as the tunes he played from it ending with ‘Higher’ a fifty-fifty heavy and progressive exchange seemed to happen. I’m rating this a climb up the ladder from the last couple of albums at the very least. He also went back in time to the land of the Devin Townsend Band and played favorites such as ‘March Of The Poozers’ and ‘Ziltoid Goes Home’ which were dignified nostalgia. Definitely based on the reaction of the audience of true Hevy Devy fans and that one guy who got called out for being the only one in black metal face paint, it has been concluded that a Strapping Young Lad reunion should be called to order in the near future as well. Everyone who loved that also loves him now, however, and if you can’t see the smart oozing out of his guitar by the end of the set then you have no clue what a great scientifically minded yet equally organically creative guitarist sounds like. When Devin Townsend burps at the end of a song you better listen as there’s always a good reason behind it.

Unfortunately, he was suffering from a cold during this show, and his voice at times became a bit more hoarse which made him unhappy. I found it to be still amazingly in key when he went all operatic on us though, and it also darkened the growls which was entertaining. One of my favorite works is the album Addicted and he played ‘Hyperdrive’ and odd fun one ‘Ih-Ah!’ that becomes a silly love song that doesn’t make you want to throw up in your mouth from all the cheese. In 2016 as most of these members are bald you can probably actually count the hairs on all the members’ heads on one hand, but that doesn’t stop them from being great at what they do, and even though Devin Townsend didn’t come out in a suit jacket with rolled up sleeves, a bow tie, and a flying V as I’ve seen him do in recent years, his nitty-gritty black tee and cocky and quirky sense of sarcastic humor makes for nothing less than a charming evening. His custom lit-up guitar was a creature from a futuristic planet, and he commanded the audience as always with the side-to-side wave move and the incentive to mosh to a love song. I only wish he played longer because it was such a well-planned set list that it seemed to escape from our clutches in no time at all, but I understand why he didn’t. It’s also ironic that his songs come from very different places depending on the time of his life, yet all of the albums flow extremely well together, and when it comes to true artistry Hevy Devy takes the gold medal.

With so many great albums released in the past month or so, many bands are on their supporting tours in the month of October, and when numerous good bands are playing such as Gojira, Tesseract, and ZZ Top, choosing what metal show to attend on a night can be a mind-bending challenge. I would have been better at ease if Tesseract, Gojira and Devin Townsend Project were all on the same tour as they have all played together on past occasions, but missing the others for Devin Townsend still did not become a regretted decision. This was definitely a memorable Devin Townsend Project show, and the new album is worth the live experience.

Devin Townsend Project set list:
01. Night
02. By Your Command
03. Failure
04. Rejoice
05. Hyperdrive
06. Stormbending
07. Where We Belong
08. Ziltoid Goes Home
09. March of the Poozers
10. Kingdom
11. Ih-Ah!
12. Higher

German Metal Masterclass: Blind Guardian & Grave Digger Rock Fonda Theatre

By Lisa Burke


October 4th 2016, Fonda Theatre, Hollywood CA: When it comes to heavy metal bands from other countries where English is not their first language singing the majority or all of their songs in English, Germans happen to be among the most talented in pulling it off, and on Tuesday October 4th 2016 at The Fonda Theatre I witnessed two bands very influential to the power metal and speed metal genre, both developed in the early eighties, Grave Digger and Blind Guardian. This was the perfect line up with just these two German bands and no openers to clutter anything up. This meant they both had ample stage time, which they both used wisely. Continue reading

Dust N’ Tunes: An Images-And-Words Recap Of ‘Ozzfest Meets Knotfest’

Review by Lisa Burke, photos by Brad Worsham


September 24th-25th 2016, San Manuel Amphitheater, San Bernardino CA: In America we still have few and far between heavy metal festivals, though there are some that can compete with the famous European festivals such as Hellfest and Wacken. We have Maryland Deathfest, and now Psychofest, we also have metal cruises, and we’ve had Ozzfest for many past years followed by Knotfest. This year, Ozzfest and Knotfest joined forces calling themselves Ozzfest Meets Knotfest featuring a pre-party day plus a two-day festival at San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino from Friday, September 23rd to Sunday, September 25th 2016. Friday night featured headliner Armored Saint with support from Exmortus among others, while Saturday’s headliner was Black Sabbath, and Sunday of course was Slipknot. Putting on a festival like this takes plenty of pre-planning and dedication, and while I commend all involved for their efforts I feel the need to mention some pitfalls that should be noted and taken into consideration for future events. Continue reading