|» Primal Fear 2010 05 28||
Our metal excursion to Louisville, Kentucky would mark the first time Wendy and I ever attended The Phoenix Hill Tavern. After a wonder filled night, we are pleased to remark that we very much enjoyed the venue, and plan to return again in August to see Exodus play there with Bonded By Blood and Malevolent Creation. If time allows, we may even go check out Green Jelly, in July. I was very impressed with the club's quaint design, and professionally courteous staff. The ticket price of only $15 was very reasonable, as my friend let me know, since Wendy and I were afforded guest list privileges.
As we arrived, a local female fronted Goth act was giving their swan song performance to an eager but meager crowd. Since I had already scheduled an interview with Havok's front man - David Sanchez, and I wanted to get my swag before the show officially began, I did not pay the band too much mind. During their whole set I was otherwise engaged in my conversation with Dave and the rest of the band. After an informative interview, Wendy and I prepared to see for ourselves just what these scabs of thrust and thrash would do to impress an impatient throng of hungry vipers who daily live for metal.
As Havok hit the lights with their mortal wreckquiem intact, they savagely tore into "The Root Of Evil" and "Path To Nowhere", which was a rip' ride somewhere into the Forbidden zone. Dave then explained to those who had now come closer to the small stage - somewhat impressed with their Bay Area ambition - that the band had recently lost their lead guitarist Shawn Chavez, and they would now function as a three piece powerhouse of fatal energy.
He apologized if he did not hammer the leads as one would expect, as heard on their debut album - 'Burn'. I thought he did a damn good job playing both guitar parts. He also told us that he was somewhat ill, and that this might affect his vocal inflections. Once again, he could have fooled me as his Slayer-like Arayaisms and shrill cries were spot on, somewhere south of heaven. This was most reinforced when he informed us that it was an honour to open for Primal Fear, and to play "Metal Forever", doing his best Ralph Scheepers sonic primal scream.
The crunch and crux of Havok embodies the classic Exodus meets Metallica morbid symmetry. The musicianship is top notch, tight, and logistic. They remind me of 'Annihilation Of Civilization' by Evildead, or perhaps some of the earlier material by Have Mercy, Epidemic, or Redrum.
Even as a three piece, they played as professionals. Boston based drummer - Pete Webber demonstrated his East Coast thrash influences as he shredded the skins with a delighted rage. Bassist Jessie De Los Santos pounded out his aggression with a merciless death like force sting.
As Havok continued to spread the disease, they treated us to two new cuts. "D.O.A." had more of a punk edge, and Overkill feel, while "Fatal Intervention" was imbued with pure hellish Vio-lence. They ended their set with two roaring tracks from 'Burn'. If you are a fan of Anacrusis, who just re-recorded their first two albums for a brand new CD compilation, then the avalanche effect of "Melting The Mountain" will force any rigid bitch and moaner to reach wargasm. Fans of Whiplash or Testament, who love to enter the snake pit, will willingly want to be thrown into the 'Afterburner'.
After their deadly set of categorical '80s era thrash, I instantly rushed to their merch table to purchase a copy of 'Burn'. Since Wendy and I also bought tour shirts, and thankfully, I obtained the last large sized rendition of the album design, Dave was more than willing to comp me the CD, that I may review it when I finally publish our interview. We hung out with the band just a bit longer, before they chose to depart the venue to catch their label mates Fear Factory, who were playing just down the street with Prong.
If you have not had a chance to catch these guys live, then what are
you waiting for? They opened for Hammerfall earlier this year, and like
Into Eternity, they fit right into the Power Metal milieu, even though
they are truly thrash lads from the home of Satan's Host and South Park!
7,5 chalices of 10
The Root Of Evil
Ever since Wendy and I discovered that Primal Fear were coming to Louisville in May, we became so excited; since we had never before caught them live, and we realized that it was now or never! I have always been a fan of Ralph Scheepers work, and Matt's Sinner. Their latest album - '16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You're Dead) ' really surprised me, as I had grown a bit weary of the band since 'Seven Seals'. Although, now having revisited those albums, I support all their work wholeheartedly.
I was still over by the Karaoke bar, suffering through some drunken college kids horrible rap fest, waiting for Wendy to pick up her burger meal, when I heard the overhead metallic vibrations. As soon as the intro sounds from '16.6' burst from the speakers and these Teutonic tribesmen of the 'Black Sun' prepared to hit the stage, the crowd went wild. We all rushed down to the tiny pit, to get as close, as we possibly could.
The design of the stage is set up in such a way, that anyone in the immediate vicinity of the bar can get a good view of the show, despite their vantage point. One can easily remain seated, and thoroughly enjoy the music. There is a somewhat larger stage set on the second floor, but since the attendance was only about 100 dedicates, Primal Fear was relegated to the smaller stage. This did not bother them or us fans, as we stared into the jaws of death, and all enjoyed a spectacular set of old and new hits.
I chose to stand directly 'neath the menacing feet of Matt Sinner. As the music commenced and the opening riffs of "Final Embrace" ensued, I watched as Wendy wolfed down what was left of her cheese sticks, as she immediately began to thrash and wail around, her hair flailing out of control. It was a bit hot down there, and Wendy worked herself into such an exhaustion, that by the end of the show, she had almost passed out. Thankfully, the bar tenders were very understanding, and they gave her plenty of water and let her rest, as the fans began to exit and rush the bus for autographs.
I was surprised that the band chose to open the show with "Final Embrace", but I guess they wanted to mix it up a bit. By now the metal masses were fully into the music, and Ralph was able to get them all to chant, "Oh Yeah!", in the pure Priest fashion, slightly different than Halford does with his "Whoah-oah-yeahs!". This led into "Killbound", and by now the alcove by the stage was swamped with perfidious Prog-Power personnel wearing Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, and Helloween attire. I was surprised that I was the only one in attendance who wore a Dio shirt; although the guy behind me was wearing a Heaven & Hell bootleg rag.
When they burst into "Nuclear Fire", I was most placated, as this is still my favourite Primal Fear album. Surprisingly, after having spoken with both Matt and Henny this evening, having involved myself in a complete, all encompassing band interview, they admitted this was still their most cherished work, as well.
Wendy was ecstatic when they played her choice selection of "Six Times Dead (16.6)", willingly singing along with the chorus. When they merged into "Angel In Black", the whole house was shaking. I was really hoping to also hear "Armageddon", but the band later informed me that this was no longer in the set.
The real shock of the night came when they played "Seven Seals". I knew something was up when I first approached the Primal Fear merch table to buy CDs and shirts, earlier this evening. I did this before I conducted the Havok interview. What caught my eye, was the shirt which on the front read, "Got Moore". As I did not attend the last Prog Power event, I was not aware that the band had performed on stage with Pamela Moore. That is right! "Sister Mary" herself is on this US tour singing side by side duets with Ralph...WOW!
I like the song "Seven Seals", but hearing the two of them perform this in unison, shed new light on its magnificence. I do believe this and some other songs will feature Pamela on Primal Fear's forthcoming CD/DVD - 'Live In The USA' due out very soon.
In order to give his voice a breather, and for Matt to recuperate from the sweltering heat, the fans were treated to a guitar duel. This was also a case of expect the unexpected, because none other than Voodoo Circle/Silent Force/Sinner guitarist Alex Beyrodt was sharing axe duties with Henny Wolter.
Apparently Magnus Karlsson was back home in Sweden welcoming more children to his family, and could not tour. For me, just watching the Sinner and saintly masters of the "End Of Sanctuary" line-up tear it off was a true mesmerizing moment. We had Henny on our side, while Alex, with his white Converse high tops, and frizzy '70's hair style was positioned on the other side. Both guitarists are highly proficient, and multi-talented. It was fun to see them tease, rib, and mock each other, acting as if one was better than the other, always trying to get the audience to agree. Having met both of these Power Metal shredders, it is good to see that they are good friends, and really ham it up on stage like Kai Hansen and Henjo Richter often do.
Once Ralph rejoined his troops, and Matt plugged back in, the band ripped into another skull burner - the screaming for vengeance worldwide - "Sign Of Fear", the first cut from "New Religion'. Here Ralph hit every high, verifying his exceptional vocal range and capacity. Sure, the British squeal of Rob Halford still matches his painkiller moments, but Mr. "Free Time" Scheepers delivers the goods every time, sin after sin! Although, as Ralph imparted to me, he sure hopes to be able to do this when he is 60, as well.
The only other darker than black powerful hell screamer who can match his wits is Sean Peck from San Diego's Cage. I am so excited to see them annihilate and destroy in a few weeks when Wendy I experience Warriors Of Metal III. Apparently, they plan to unveil some new cuts just for those in attendance.
Before Primal Fear played the provocative full version of "Fighting The Darkness", with Pamela again joining them on stage, Ralph took a moment to pause and reflect on the memory of his and our hero - Ronnie James Dio. As we all paid our respects to this legend, the crowd was for a brief moment solemn, and they reflected on the loss or our rainbow in the dark. As the opening keyboard effects passionately began to sway though our ears, the magic and mystery of the chords made my heart rapidly beat, and I shed the tears of rage.
After an awesome applause, the men of might held their devil's ground, and began to soar, by "Riding The Eagle". All heads were banging in mettle union. Then, I was surprised when they began "Running In The Dust", this song is like "Space Eater" from Ralph's previous band's debut. I asked him why they chose this hit, when they could have played "Evil Spell", or "Suicide And Mania", but he felt it was what the fans wanted to hear, ...well not this guy!
Ralph also did reflect on what it was like to record the "Space Eater" video for the "Doomsday News" VHS compilation. He remarked that those days with Gamma Ray were fun, but doing that video behind the iron curtain, before the fall of the wall in Berlin, was a weird experience. I can only imagine! I wonder how Scanner felt when they made "Buy Or Die"?
As this iron tyrant kept the pace, it was cool to watch Randy Black do a brief drum solo, before they began their trademark "Metal Is Forever". I love the lyrics for this song, as "Metal is forever, in every single matter...(when all) nations come together". This night the crowd truly came together and screamed with Ralph, reciting the veracity of the spoken words over and over, as if on a roller coaster of fear. It is no wonder that these living for metal kings chose to name their new CD/DVD - 'Live In The USA' , even though they are much more popular, and far better known over seas.
After a brief break, responding to the never-ending beckon cries of fans who wanted more, these rage rovers returned, and after a welcomed band introduction, for any of us who did not already know who was who, they returned to their initial album for the pummelling "Battalions Of Hate", followed by the 'Painkiller' worship of "Chainbreaker".
Then it was all over too soon. I found out later from Henny that they wanted to come out for a final encore and perform an all acoustic version of "Hands Of Time" where each member takes a turn singing, joined by the benighted Gaelic presence of Pamela Moore. Unfortunately, due to some mild technical difficulties, the size of the stage, and the less than high quality equipment which they were provided, they were compelled to omit this from their set. He assured me that the version of the forthcoming DVD was well worth the wait.
Judging by the set list I was given, if they had not encountered these and other horrorific frustrations, the very last song would have been a cover of Priest's "Metal Gods", thus displaying the band's scope of influences. Oh well, the show was awesome, and Wendy and I were so thrilled that we made the journey south. Thank You Primal Fear for coming to Kentucky, and for being true to the mettle! We are forever under you spell!
8 chalices of 10
Intro: Before The Devil Knows You Are Dead
See also: interview with the band the same night