We catch up with Helmet, touring in support of their first LP in over six years + Rival Sons & more!
Slayer & Anthrax w/ Death Angel - October 7th - Gas Monkey Live - Dallas, TX
A great night of classic Metal featuring two of the official Big Four of Thrash still kicking it large both returning huge this year with intense new LPs.Slayer
Before the main event, a white sheet was draped dramatically over the stage, amping the anxiety building to catch what might be seen behind it once the music starts. Spewing over the house speaker dimmed out as Delusions of Saviour from their latest album Repentless turned up.
Several large red crosses appeared over a black background on the white sheet, spinning clockwise until they all resolved in the upside-down position.
Taking the stage exactly 30 years from the day they released their seminal thrash album Reign in Blood to say the decor was elaborate would be an understatement, as the entire back side of the stage was covered in the detailed design that can be found on the Repentless album cover. The backdrop somehow did end up changing throughout the night, mystically morphing into a scene that resembled a graveyard. Much has been made about the future of this band. With the passing of guitarist (& arguably the soul of the band) Jeff Hanneman & the acrimonoius split of it's engine, everyone's favorite Metal drummer Dave Lombardo, I've heard derogatory remarks, calling the current incarnation
"half of Slayer". Let me say this:
Anytime a band makes their first record without one of it's key originators there will always be that type of dialogue (& often rightfully so).
Some feel that this band can't (or shouldn't) continue without Hanneman.
When Metallica lost bassist Cliff Burton, people were wound tight about that first record without him - I can't say Slayer has achieved the continued heights they did with that first post-Burton LP but Metallica was still a new young band at the time comparatively & Repentless, the first post-Hanneman LP sounds about as good & as relevent as any record Slayer is capable of making in 2016 regardless of it's lineup & that's to say that it's pretty damn good and live the new stuff sounds delightfully brutal.
When the Stillness Comes
You Against You
Fight Till Death
Dead Skin Mask
Born of Fire
Pride in Prejudice
Seasons in the Abyss
South of Heaven
Angel of Death
Thankfully they kept the new tunes rolling as Singer Joey Belladonna worked the stage for the whole set, enthusiastically engaging members of the crowd with his enthusiastic, good-natured pointing and gesturing. Guitarist Scott Ian was similarly engaging, and, as the most consistent face of the group, in some ways has served as the de facto frontman. Charlie Benante was missing from his seat behind the drums, sidelined with continued wrist problems. The chair was filled by Jon Dette, who did a great job, but can’t replace Benante’s personal presence, given Benante’s status (along with Ian) as one of the main driving forces of the group that has kept them performing at this level for over 30 years.
It speaks volumes when you see a band that's been around for that long & your hoping to hear mostly new songs instead of lamenting how many of them you'll have to endure.
I had the pleasure of having bassist Frank Bello, equally as recognizable & vital member of the group as any on my weekly TrickyKid Radio show earlier that afternoon & we had a ball. Frankie is always so much fun to talk with & listen to. Check out the episode here.
You Gotta Believe
Monster at the End
Caught in a Mosh
Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't
March of the S.O.D. (Stormtroopers of Death cover)
In the End
Antisocial (Trust cover)
Opening the show was Bay Area's Death Angel - While the previous two bands can claim Big Four status if their was never a Next Big Four there is more than a chance these guys would make that list.
Opening with The Ultra-Violence and Evil Priest from their classic 1987 debut album Singer Mark Osegueda’s vocals were strong and when he wasn’t singing or screaming, he was hyping the crowd talking about Bay Area thrash.
They only played one song, The Moth from this years' The Evil Divide however their set was enough to satisfy knowing that Anthrax and Slayer were still to come, but I do wish they had a longer set.
Claws in So Deep
Thrown to the Wolves
Caster of Shame
Good fun crowd tonight as you can imagine with Slayer in the house. Below you may recognize Dakota, the girl on the right who showed up with her friend (not pictured here) at Exxxotica Dallas & basically blew the spot up causing spontanous naked dancing & endless fun chaos seemingly everywhere she went. Tonight she kept that party going.
Dakota & friend (left)
Ryan B & I keeping our own traditions alive (right)
Helmet - November 27th - Gas Monkey Bar & Grill - Dallas, TX
Another great band returning this year after a long recording hiatus is Helmet, one of my all-time favorite bands, touring in support of their just released new album.
Personally I was on a mission, for some reason when they toured last year doing special show performing the entire Betty LP + a second set & encore, I missed it at every turn (including in my hometown ON MY BIRTHDAY).
Basically the ultimate Helmet show & I missed it...again on my birthday.
So this evening I was out to make up for all of that - Testament to that as Henry Rollins & Maynard James Keenan were also in town doing their own seperate talking shows - lots of competition (that sadly showed in the quite sparse crowd) but Helmet won because I was in the mood to rock.
And rock they did - Though the show wasn't very well attended & the crowd was painfully older/polite (which is a relief to the alternative) the performance & vibe never suffered.
It's difficult for a band that breaks up at their peak and return a few years later with mostly new members (though in this case main man Paige Hamilton was the only one you could have named in the band their first time around) because people want what they remember or they move on.
In Helmet's case though they released some great records for their second act, what would now be the unofficial beggining of their third with the just released Dead to the World LP it their most challenging effort yet. I mention this as while I'm a staunch defender of their millenail output, I wasn't immediately taken with the new record but was very looking forward to hearing what it might sound like live.
In yet another lineup change, the addition of bassist Dave Case really rounded out the live sound on the new songs & were very enjoyable.
And though I missed the Betty tour it was almost like they knew it and as consolation they played 5 songs in a row from it (including Overrated, which I previous had thought that a Betty tour would be the only way I'd ever hear it live. Good times.
Act Like I Care
I ♥ My Guru
Drunk in the Afternoon
Life or Death
The Silver Hawaiian
In the Meantime
Diamond Head - November 13th - Trees - Dallas, TX
Celebrating 40 years as a band this year but amazingly doing some of their first tours in the States the last couple of years, I've somehow managed to see British legends Diamond Head now for the third time in North America. All three times (this show being the third) they KILLED, all three times however (including tonight) they had a different singer.
However, they seem to have found a great frontman in Rasmus Bom Andersen, a likeable personality and a very strong voice.
That's not to say that the other singers weren't great because both turned in fine performances but with Andersen it seems to have finally gelled again since their early days Sean Harris, so much so they recorded their first LP in nine years with this year's self-titled barnburner.
In support of that new LP,the band returned to the States for a rare appearance this side of the Atlantic.
The strength of the new material has to be mentioned. To illsutrate their blissfull lack of awarness of just-don't-give-an-F they even wrote a song forthe new LP called Shout At The Devil.
Am I Evil’ is still as good as it was all those years ago with that dark regimental beat & dark foreboding intro sending all the denim cut-off wearers in the crowd into a frenzy of headbanging while shouting back the chorus.
I was really feeling for drummer ??? as his mother had passed away just the day before & while most bands would have called it a tour right then & there (especially to the dismal attendance) he soldiered on with inspiring solidarity.
With this knowledge I was cringing with the opening line from Am I Evil? "My mother was a witch, she was burned alive"
Could you imagine having to play that song in light of the events of just the day before in a town your largely unfamiliar with in front of about 20 people?
That's the epitome of fucking Metal right there.
While they will always be known as one of the frontrunners in the NWOBHM, tonight they showed they still have a relevance in todays metal/rock circuit with a new album that stacks up well against any of their classic releases. Diamond Head proved they are still a bonafide metal band.
Naturally one can't help but be befuddled why Diamond Head isn't playing to bigger crowds on bigger stages as their legacy is inexplicably linked with being unsung masters that are as good or better than their peers that went on to much more acclaim.
I spoke with Founder/Guitarist BrianTatler after the show for an episode of TrickyKid Radio that airs next week & found him totally at peace delightfully grateful for the band & it's legacy at any capacity. Don't miss this episode!
Lightning to the Nations
In the Heat of the Night
To Heaven From Hell
Shout at the Devil
Starcrossed (Lovers of the Night)
Sucking My Love
Shoot Out the Lights
Am I Evil?
Play It Loud
Streets of Gold