Exhumed Thrills Bloodthirsty Hollywood Crowd

By Avinash Mittur

February 11th 2012, The Roxy, Hollywood CA: Once again, Scion A/V has given Southern California the gift of heavy metal, and once again I have returned from their show with an amazingly sore neck. Needless to say, Scion has delivered a fun afternoon of metal to Los Angeles for the umpteenth time, and I couldn’t be happier.

This concert showcased Relapse Records, easily the heaviest and most experimental label Scion A/V have given the spotlight yet. Between the thrash and power metal leanings of Nuclear Blast, and the more modern metal stylings of Prosthetic Records, Relapse Records’ roster of sludge metal, grindcore and post-metal stands out as especially ear-rattling. I came to this show with zero prior knowledge of any of the bands’ music, besides knowing the style in which they played. As such, I gained a unique view of the bands’ performances and the show as a whole.

The concert began with Atlanta, GA’s Royal Thunder, who truly managed to remain an musical enigma throughout their short set. Opening with a track resembling post-metal, the song alternated between slow dirge-like verses and far louder sections with more head-bangable riffing being utilized. After thinking this band would continue with this loud-quiet volume dynamic for the rest of the set, I was surprised to hear their second song begin with an amazingly badass southern hard rock riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mastodon album. This track got many heads moving, and highlighted Mlny Parsonz’s out of this world singing ability. It goes without this saying that this lady could wail. Her singing was full of passion and bluesy grit not unlike a more metal version of Joan Jett. The audience clearly loved this harder-rocking tune, and answered its finish with appropriate applause. The band’s set continued to alternate between post-metal styled tracks and more traditional rockers, which the audience seemed to enjoy. Personally, I would like to see the band decide on one direction and master it instead of attempting both at the same time. With a weapon like Mlny, I can see Royal Thunder succeeding in either style, but perhaps not both. Continue reading “Exhumed Thrills Bloodthirsty Hollywood Crowd”

Bay Area’s Best Deliver Spectacular Tribute To Paul Baloff

By Avinash Mittur

Feb 4th 2012, Oakland Metro Opera House, Oakland CA: The San Francisco Bay Area: the home of some of the greatest heavy metal music to have ever been created. As far as the mainstream music media is concerned, that story is a simply a history lesson on Metallica. Last Saturday night, the Oakland Metro Opera House was treated to an exhibition in thrash metal excellence from the real heroes of the bay area metal scene. Exodus, Possessed, Forbidden, Heathen and many more delivered a relentless assault upon the sold out crowd, and paid a fitting tribute to a true thrash titan, original Exodus singer Paul Baloff.

This concert, occurring only two days after the tenth anniversary of Baloff’s passing, was packed to the brim with bands all from the bay, but with varying ages and levels of success. Even before the doors opened, one knew that this would not just be any old concert, this would be a genuine celebration of the bay area community. Left and right, one could see lifers reuniting and reminiscing, groups of teens in denim vests, and the band members hanging out with friends in the ticket line. Right as I walked in, Exodus’ own Gary Holt could be spotted at the will-call table frantically making sure everything was going as scheduled. Seeing Gary run back and forth throughout the Metro was a regular occurrence throughout the night; it’s tough to imagine the sheer amount of effort it took to put this all together.  Continue reading “Bay Area’s Best Deliver Spectacular Tribute To Paul Baloff”

Graveyard Reconquers LA’s Bootleg Theater

By Andrew Bansal

Jan. 28th 2012, Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles CA: Graveyard’s second studio album “Hisingen Blues” came out early last year, and since first listen, it has been one of my favorite albums of recent times. I would go as far as saying that it’s one of the best pieces of music I’ve heard in a long, long time. As a result, I have developed a tremendous amount of admiration for the Swedish hard rockers, and having never seen them live, I was eagerly waiting for a chance to do so. Last November, the band finally announced their North American touring plans for early 2012, and my anticipation grew tenfold.

The LA show of the tour was at the Bootleg Theater last night, the very same venue they played on their previous North American tour in 2009. The prospect of seeing them play songs off of “Hisingen Blues” was sufficiently exciting in itself, but the band also brought with them Iowa-based rock trio Radio Moscow as support, while Los Angeles’ very own rock ‘n roll trio The Shrine provided local support for the night. Continue reading “Graveyard Reconquers LA’s Bootleg Theater”

Wolves In The Throne Room Unleash Sensory Assault Upon Los Angeles

By Avinash Mittur

Jan. 26th 2012, The Echoplex, Los Angeles CA: Wolves In the Throne Room are a rare success story in today’s music industry. For nearly ten years, the band has released their unique brand of black metal on their terms and have been met with acclaim and sold out tours across the country. Their music has attracted everyone from hipsters sporting purple v-necks to die-hard metal maniacs in black band shirts. Last night, WITTR treated this diverse Los Angeles audience to seventy five minutes of the most aurally punishing, yet beautiful live music I have had the pleasure of hearing.

The massive line outside the Echoplex last night exemplified the success WITTR have received; despite existing in an age of total music piracy, hundreds turned up to pay money to see them, and dozens more waited in vain for tickets to become available. Tickets were cheap for this event; about $16 dollars before the concert, and then $18 on the day of the show. The concert was more than reasonably priced, and the Echoplex was a perfect venue for their style of music. A bigger venue potentially could have hampered the experience even if more fans could have been accommodated.  Continue reading “Wolves In The Throne Room Unleash Sensory Assault Upon Los Angeles”

Anthrax, Testament & Death Angel Give Their Best To Orange County Fans

By Andrew Bansal

Jan. 23rd 2012, House of Blues, Anaheim CA: Usually, post-NAMM Monday is an extremely depressing day for me. During NAMM I get to say hello to almost all of my favorite musicians, and all of a sudden they are gone. But that wasn’t the case this time, as I headed back to Anaheim to witness the unbeatable line-up of Anthrax, Testament and Death Angel on the second leg of their North American touring run. The first leg of the tour was a resounding success wherever it went, and it came as no surprise to me that this show was sold out well in advance of its actual date. Continue reading “Anthrax, Testament & Death Angel Give Their Best To Orange County Fans”

NAMM 2012 Serves As Giant Melting Pot For Heavy Metal Greats

By Andrew Bansal
[w/ photo contributions by Jay Valena & Chad Alexander]

The Winter NAMM convention has always been hugely responsible in kicking off the new year in the best manner possible for industry folks, gear enthusiasts and music lovers alike. On paper, this year’s edition promised to be the biggest and best of the three NAMM conventions I’ve attended so far, and I have no doubt in my mind that it eventually turned out to be so.

The 2012 Winter NAMM edition was the 110th NAMM show, and in terms of numbers alone, it set a new record. At close, NAMM reported 95,709 registered attendees, a whopping 6 per cent increase from last year. Judging from the endless array of products that were launched this year, to go along with the biggest gathering of music luminaries you can think of, it came as no surprise to me that the event was so well attended. Continue reading “NAMM 2012 Serves As Giant Melting Pot For Heavy Metal Greats”