Rock On The Range 2012 lineup revealed

After months of waiting, the 2012 RotR lineup has finally been made public; Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Shinedown, Chevelle, Incubus, Megadeth, Slash, The Darkness, Five Finger Death Punch, Down, Mastodon, Volbeat, Cypress Hill (!?), POD, Theory of a Deadman, Halestorm, Escape the Fate . . . and many, many more.    Check it out HERE.

Shaping up to be another legendary weekend!

Killswitch Engage Part Ways With Singer

KNAC.com – Kinda bummed about the news that Howard Jones is no longer with Killswitch Engage (follow the link for the full story on KNAC).   HoJo’s from Columbus, so it was always cool knowing he was out there on the road, kicking ass and making a name for himself.  Another fine example of the veritable hotbed of Metal that is the Midwest, despite what many believe. Howard, this ones for you. . .

Still Alive, Barely

Ok, it’s been a month without an update so I think an explanation might be in order. In the past 30 days, I have left my old job, started at a new, more challenging position but unfortunately, lost my Father in the meantime. Out of respect for my family – I put them first.

But fear not, intrepid visitors – The Rev ain’t done listening, writing or sermonizing. Gimme a few more days. . . the Rim of Hell will be alive again!

Video: As I Lay Dying – Electric Eye

Ok, you tell me? Is this cool, or one of the dumbest videos ever? Don’t get me wrong, I have much love for Tim Lambesis & co. – but I think they should ask the director for their money back. The CGI looks like it was done on a Commodore 64. Excellent cover of Judas Priest, though. Think I’d rather just listen to the CD.

On Getting Exhumed By A Goatwhore

Due to the length of time that has passed on this concert (almost 2 weeks), a full-on review of the Exhumed/Goatwhore/Havok show at the Alrosa Villa might seem a bit pointless. What the hell – better late than never! If you’d like another perspective of the same show, I recommend checking out Gogmagogical (always happy to support a fellow blogger).

Anyhow, this was a Tuesday night show – which is a rough situation for the headliners if there’s a significant number of opening acts on the bill. On this night, there were 5 openers – so sadly by the time Exhumed took the stage, there were about 40 of us left. A disappointing lack of support but I understand it’s how it goes sometimes. People get up WAY earlier than me & it’s just good that they came out at all, right? But I’m getting ahead of myself, here’s my thoughts on the lineup;

Kingsblood – If there’s such thing as Epic Metal, then Kingsblood is the poster-child. Growling death vocals backed by excellent Battle Metal-style guitar riffage and rapid fire drum blasts, this is music that conjures images of knights & barbarians without seeming. . .well, nerdy. The fact that guitarist McFly is also a graphic artist translates into awesome logo work that you can check out at the link as well as some tunes.

Skullbomb – delivered some pounding Thrash reminiscent of early Exodus, with catchy rhythms and galloping drum beats that took me straight back to the heydays of the 80′s. Like the next two bands who followed, I’m excited to see a continued resurgence of oldschool Thrash in the clubs these days, something I fully supported in the first generation, and will continue to support with these younger acts. Keep the spirit alive, gentlemen!

Next up was Mithridium, a melodic oldschool outfit with a propensity for face-melting, dueling guitar leads. I challenge anyone to listen to the first 30 seconds of “The Blood Of Retribution” and not drop their jaw in disbelief. Relentlessly heavy, polished and with a completely professional stage presence, these guys are ready for bigger stages.

Continuing the Thrash onslaught was Havok, a high energy foursome out of Colorado who blasted out amazingly technical songs making even this early week crowd put on their dancing shoes & open up a pit. I highly recommend “Scumbag in Disguise” but really, EVERYTHING they played was arena-level awesome with complex instrumentation and melodic hooks. These guys need to be huge – and I have no doubt that they will.

Evil followed, with the ferociously brutal Goatwhore from the mystic swamplands of Louisiana. Deftly mixing punk with Thrash & Black Metal influences, Goatwhore is the bastard offspring of bands like Celtic Frost and Agnostic Front. Ben Falgoust’s vocals permeated the stage with his unholy ranting, spewing venomous rebellion at the masses amidst the deafening wall of distorted power chords & thundering bass. Greatest crowd reaction of the night – and for good reason, Goatwhore is nasty little guilty pleasure that I recommend catching if you get the chance.

Final act of the evening were the Gore Metal legends Exhumed, who return to touring after a lengthy hiatus supporting their first new CD in almost 8 years (“All Guts, No Glory”). Despite being abandoned by a large portion of the audience, Exhumed played a full-on assault of grinding Death Metal like they didn’t even notice. Surprisingly sparse in theatrics (think Cannibal Corpse), Exhumed’s visceral delivery felt like heavy chunks of carnage filling the air with blood-soaked dread, delivering a tight, punishing show that underscored their status as godfathers of the genre. Really liked hearing “I Rot Within” and “Necromaniac” live, and seeing as how this was their first appearance at the Alrosa, I hope they do return someday & receive the responsive, watchful throng they deserve.

Concert Review: Wednesday 13 – Alrosa Villa – October 27th

Thought I was dead, didn’t ya’?  Nope, just been dealing with real life while still making it to a few shows that I want to tell you about – so here we go.  First up, I LOVE me some good Horror Rock around Halloween, and with The Misfits & GWAR conveniently avoiding Columbus this season, one of the scary themed shows I DID attend was Wednesday 13 at the Alrosa Villa.  Here’s the breakdown;

The first band I caught was Phantom 13 out of Marion, Ohio, who played some decent Horror Punk but were VERY derivative of early Misfits/Danzig (probably too much so for any real commercial success). Still, if you like that sound (and I do), Phantom puts out catchy tune-age like “Death Dealer” & “Dust Filled Veins” that’ll have you singing along in the shower (or is that in the blood bath?).

Next up, some local favorites of mine, Mystic Syntax – who you may recall I saw sweating it out in 90 degree mid-day heat at Woodshock. Much more conducive playing conditions this night, with another strong performance by the band that was one part Electro-Industrial, one part Metal and a uniquely strange experience to witness. Like a post-apocalyptic nightclub act, MS creates eerie tunes full of emotionless lyrics & driving beats wrapped in techno-centric keyboard samples. “Just Like You” is featured on the linked site, and gives you a good feel for their sound.

Polkadot Cadaver were next, an eclectic & funky experimental group formed by ex-members of Dog Fashion Disco. I’ll give them credit for avoiding cliche, but I didn’t need to hear (among other things) the full cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. Not my cup of tea, but I encourage you to follow the link & give them a listen for yourself.

The following band, Vampires Everywhere are more of what I expected for an opening act on this bill, a Gothic boy band with heavy 80′s Sunset Strip influences. That being said, I found them to be very entertaining with a rocking set of Power Pop tunes overlaid with occasional scream-o vocals. Probably dripping in Twilight groupies, Vampires Everywhere have a melodic brand of cemetery angst that is catchy, listenable & was ultimately fun to watch. I particularly like “Immortal Love”, which you can hear if you follow the link.

Wednesday 13 came out last, with all the fog swept, light flashing intensity of a great Halloween show. Not as heavy on stage props as I would’ve expected, the band more than made up for it with a powerful presence, chugging through a set that mixed new offerings with a good selection of old staples (except “I Love To Say Fuck”, a personal fave of mine). Melodic & catchy, like most bands on this bill, W-13 do a great job of capturing a Punk sensibility, sprinkling in some A7X type metallic goodness and serving it all up in Psychobilly homage that’s both lyrically humorous (with songs like “Calling All Corpses” and “Happily Ever Cadaver” for example) but backed up by a good rock n’ roll crunch. Below is a shaky fan-made video from a show a few weeks previous, that aptly captures their live performance. Really good stuff, and I’d not hesitate to see them again. Thanks to some help from Setlist.fm, I can offer you what was played as well;

  • Calling All  Corpses
  • I Walked With A Zombie
  • Scream Baby Scream
  • My Home Sweet Homicide
  • Silver Bullets
  • From Here to the Hearse
  • Happily Ever Cadaver
  • Rambo
  • Put Your Death Mask On
  • I Want You Dead
  • I Wanna Be Cremated
  • House By The Cemetary
  • 197666
  • Til Death Do Us Party
  • Bad Things
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes

 

Music Review: Achren – The Forgotten King

A while back, you may recall I reviewed a live DVD from the Scottish band Achren (if you didn’t see it, shame on you but go read all about it HERE). Anyhow, their first CD has finally been released, which offers an excellent opportunity to bludgeon your skull to 10 tracks of Euro-metal goodness.

Achren’s self styled ‘Blood Metal’ is a decent blend of Death, Thrash and Black metal, with a lot of mid-tempo songs that while solidly constructed, offer unusual key changes rather than drudging along in endless repetition. Guitars can be multi-layered in parts but have a tendency to reinforce the melody, not going for individuality or complex harmonies. The rhythm section lays down pumping bass lines that chug along like a locomotive, accenting the driving, high intensity drum blasts. Scott Anderson’s vocals alternate between deep chested growls to rasping screams, but the words are still enunciated & understandable, not lost amidst the distortion.

Opening track ‘Impaled’ doesn’t have the strongest intro but is in fact one of the more outstanding pieces on the album once you get about 50 seconds into it (after the transition). Blood boiling rhythms pile on top of the listener like an invading horde with a no holds barred attack on the temporal lobe, crying out in fist-pumping anger. “The Way of the Twilight or the Aura of Flies” shows some definite Maiden influence but in my opinion really needs more of a wail in the guitar solo to take it over the top.

“Bastards on the Gallows and Bastards on the Rack” showcases the Gothenberg influences of the band, aptly delivering a stylish & melodic piece with both exceptional rhythm and some of the best fretwork on the album. “Fuck It Hard” is somewhat anomalous in lyrical content but is a quick, intense little number that probably translates well in a live environ. I also recommend the raucous “Fury Of The Northmen” with it’s hyperactive gallop & blistering guitar solo, the anthemic battle overtures of “Darkest Days” & “Wings Of War”, and the surprisingly haunting echoes of “Manuel’s Mile”.

I’ve compared Achren to Ohio’s own Skeletonwitch, and would still love to see those two bands tour together. But regardless, Achren has delivered an impressive freshman effort and I look forward to hearing what the greater exposure and touring experience brings to their sound. You can download the entire album on Amazon (while previewing a few tracks) or order yourself a hard copy at http://www.ceoldorchas.com/. Long live Blood Metal!

2 1/2 Men – The Verdict

To follow up on my previous post, after having watched the season premiere of ’2 1/2 Men’ as well as Charlie Sheen’s roast on Comedy Central, well – Sheen’s roast wins. Kutcher’s performance – while I’m sure was droolworthy for anyone wishing to see insinuations of his nakedness, was far too derivative of his Kelso role on ‘That 70′s Show’ to breathe the fresh air this show desperately needs. Despite his new character Walden Schmidt being an entrepreneur and a billionaire, he actually came across as just another dorky airhead – again, not far from Kelsoland. CBS garnered killer ratings for the debut (27.7 million viewers) but I predict we’re gonna see a HARD drop-off over the coming weeks – possibly not even enough to sustain the show, although it’s a little early to call the patient deceased just yet.

Sheen, on the other hand, definitively has been given the last laugh. Literally. While his roasters were tasteless, brazen and occasionally even racist, like a NASCAR spin-out it was tough to turn away. Sure, Steve-O and Mike Tyson made one cringe and “joke borrowing” Jon Lovitz confirmed his washed-up status by using material that’s been on every Facebook status page for the past 10 months (“How much cocaine did Charlie Sheen do? Enough to kill 2 1/2 men”). Fortunately, with the razor sharp ruthlessness of relative unknowns Amy Schumer, Jeffrey Ross and Anthony Jeselnik as well as veteran zingers Seth Macfarlane and William Shatner, this rag-tag ensemble proved that the prime-time roast sure as hell ain’t dead. And even Sheen’s rebuttal – well, WINNING (you knew I was gonna throw that in here somewhere, didn’t you?). I for one wouldn’t object to a Sheen roast EVERY week instead of the faltering “2 1/2 Men”. Still, hope springs eternal that the show will get it’s legs with the new cast. Had this had been a prizefight, “2 1/2 men” may not have been KO’d but they sure lost on points. And ultimately, the champion remains the same. Well played again, Mr. Sheen.

2 1/2 Sheens

Like many folks, I plan on watching the premiere of “2 and 1/2 Men” tonight live (sans DVR – EGADS!) & then most likely flipping over to the Charlie Sheen roast on Comedy Central. After it’s all over, I’m wondering which will actually be the funnier of the two (probably the roast, but it won’t be the intentional parts).

Can’t help but think that Charlie’s “tirades” and the ensuing media storm, the tour of rants etc. weren’t all some ploy on Sheen’s part to get a better contract. His apologetic presentation on last night’s Emmy’s could be construed as laying the groundwork for guest appearance discussions on the hit sitcom (probably around the May Nielsen book, I’m thinking), provided anyone still cares at that point. And if all of this IS true – well done Mr. Sheen. Played like a well oiled stripper.

But what I’m curious about, and why I even care at this point, is from a more artistic standpoint. As a writer, the challenge of substituting a pivotal character with a NEW pivotal character – well, it ain’t as easy as Chuck Lorre would like for us all to believe. It’s like a good series finale; every producer says they “know what mistakes were made by the great series before them”, and yet few (if any) actually go on to prove that they were paying attention. I’m talking to you, J. J. Abrams.

So for me, it’s not “Is Ashton Kutcher able to pull it off” because of course he will, or they wouldn’t be airing the show at all. The question to me is, will the writers? Or are we about to be treated to a rehashed, revamped, retro-fitted semblance of a transition story that could’ve been more imaginatively conceived by a junior high art class on a long bus ride to Origami Camp? I certainly hope not.

I have faith in the genius of Chuck Lorre and his writing team – arguably some the sharpest tacks in the business right now, and tonight’s episode WILL be a learning experience one way or the other from a storytelling standpoint; either a textbook “This is how it’s done” template for future sitcoms, or a cautionary tale about over-estimating one’s prowess with plot devices.

We shall see, won’t we?

Concert Review: Blast From The Past – Clays Park Resort, Aug. 19-21st 2011

Once upon a time, there was a magical campground that held within it’s borders an annual music festival called “Rock N’ Resort”. The festival was a jubilant celebration comprised of mostly older rock acts (many of whom one wouldn’t expect to still be touring), sharing the stage alongside up & coming local talent from the nearby villages. It was a 3 day affair of rocking out, drinking and debauchery – and the Reverend (& Mrs. Reverend) saw that it was good.

Then in the year 2011, the festival was cancelled because a new promoter had taken over it’s management. “Rock N’ Resort” was replaced with “Rock THE Resort”, and older rock acts gave way to younger, more mainstream talent with the obvious hope of bringing in large throngs to the sacred acres of Clay’s Resort. But yeah, there was a terrible backlash and gnashing of teeth upon the promoter by Those Who Had Come Before.

And so, in haste to appease the offended spirits (and perhaps spurred on by attendance concerns at the revamped festival), a second festival was announced although the time was short. Thus arose the lengthily named “End Of Summer Blast From The Past”, which we shall refer to as simply BftP hereafter. It was an honorable event, sporting names of yore like Pat Travers (pictured, left), The Godz, L.A. Guns, Jackyl, Blue Oyster Cult, Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night) and others.

But things were not the same. The primitive camping had been moved from next to the performance area (a mighty & ideal location, all did say) to far off in the woods or completely to the other side of the campgrounds. Food vendors were plentiful, expensive beer was readily availed, but alas – the crowds had seemingly forsaken this new festival (or simply hadn’t had time to rearrange their vacation schedules).

Forsooth, there were not many in attendance – tho Those Who Had Come Before did smile upon this occurrence & blessed it with the presence of a select few of their number (as did the Reverend & his bride). Yet, in the end, with angered merchants and disgruntled campers one fears that classic rock may ne’er return to the hallowed hills & sighing valleys of Clay’s Park.

And that my children, is the cautionary tale of the “Rock N’ Resort”.

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