Monday, Feburary 2nd, 2014 – Stage 48, New York, NY

It was one of the most brutal winters in the tri-state area in recent memory, enough that Dark Tranquillity seemed to bring the weather with them from their Swedish homeland.

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August 29th, 2014 – Jones Beach, Wantagh NY

Who’d have thought that Motley Crue would retire before Alice Cooper did?

Motley Crue was one of the first metal bands I ever heard, thanks to their song “Too Young To Fall In Love” from the Grand Theft Auto Vice City soundtrack. It had been almost 10 years since I first heard it, about 9 years since I picked up the Red White & Crue 2-disc best-of collection, and 4 years since I read The Dirt, which is still one of my top 10 most entertaining reads.

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Concert Review – Nile

November 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

“Don’t die,” my friends warn me.

My friends looked with trepidation at the black and red clad line of headbangers outside BB King’s, where they were dropping me off.

But I was already off towards the merch booth, eager to see what was on display for Nile’s 20th Anniversary tour. All those years ago, the South Carolinian band had started to find its niche in the competitive and increasingly-crowded death metal scene in the USA. Nowadays, ask a headbanger, “What’s that band that does all the songs about ancient Egypt?” and you’ll immediately get the answer, “NILE!” They truly are that unique.

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Like metal, the horror genre has had its moments of big mainstream success, but is largely a cult/underground pastime these days. Like metal, it’s attracted controversy and been the subject of censorship campaigns and bans (like on the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” still banned in some countries even today).

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In parts 1 and 2 of this series, I spent a lot of time talking about visual kei, a commercially successful, stylish,aggressive and uniquely Japanese take on existing Western metal. Bands like X Japan hit it big, placing a few visual kei groups among the biggest-selling metal bands of all time (and that’s globally). Although superstars in their own backyard, only a couple of these bands were able to replicate this success outside of Japan (although today, that may finally be changing…see my conclusion for that).

As with anything that gets popular, there would eventually be backlash. And in Japan’s case, this backlash would help fuel the development of an extreme metal underground scene.

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In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the first groups of Western heavy metal bands to take on the unique challenge of converting the people of Japan into lovers of the greatest music on earth.

I then talked about the aspects of metal that they picked up on best, the very first Japanese metal bands, and introduced the unique style known as visual kei.

It’s important to note that the term visual kei is not just applicable to rock and metal, but for pop, electronica, alternative and other music styles. For my purposes, I’m sticking with the metallic form of visual kei. Most of this is based on my own research and with inspiration from Sam Dunn’s excellent documentary, Global Metal if you want to check it out.

So, visual kei metal/rock…

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There’s a certain mystique about Japan that gives you a unique thrill when your band gets its first chance to play there. Once you’ve cracked the island nation’s music market, there’s the impression that you’re REALLY getting somewhere (and that’s true for mainstream rok, pop and all other music types besides metal).

The stereotype of Japanese society is that it’s extremely group-oriented, orderly and harmonious. How could metal (or even straight-up rock and roll, for that matter), find appeal there? And even if the Japanese loved this foreign music, would they be inspired to create their own?

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The below is a guest review by Stryfe, who is a passionate fan of power metal and kindly offers his thoughts on the latest from Sabaton below. His first of hopefully many more to come! Enjoy!

Too Much of a Good Thing is Actually Bad

In the summer of 2012, Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton released their sixth studio album – Carolus Rex, and the listening metal world collectively took notice in awe as this group of head bangers proved that not only could they write one hell of a concept album, but they could do so while at the same time evolve and ripen their unique sound. Did I mention the group also had to replace 3/5 of their lineup in the middle of recording, and also released the record with both English and Swedish vocals? The improvements noted in Carouls Rex were a massive improvement over their 2010 release, Coat of Arms, which, while having several memorable moments, felt like a bland rehash of the band’s earlier work. Now, the bombastic ensemble returns and presents the heavy metal world with their seventh release, Heroes. Unfortunately, the new release falls short in areas similar to Coat of Arms, and leaves the listener yearning for something more.

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