Artist: Tony MacAlpine
Venue: DROM Club (New York, NY)
Opener: John Ferrara, Felix Martin
Label: Sun Dog Records
Any fan of Metal guitar is probably familiar with Tony MacAlpine, a pioneering 80s musician, who along with Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman and a few others redefined what was possible to do with the guitar as an instrument and influenced countless other musicians. Tony MacAlpine’s first 2 albums are widely considered guitar classics, especially by fans of the Neoclassical Metal style. MacAlpine has since branched out into more eclectic musical directions such as Jazz Fusion and progressive metal, both under his own band name and as part of groups like Planet X, Portnoy/Sherinian/MacAlpine/Sheehan, and CAB. He also toured with Steve Vai band as second guitarist/keyboardist. A few years ago, MacAlpine embarked on a rare solo US tour, playing the seminal Maximum Security record in its entirety. The tour was a success and was followed by another a year later. Both times the New York City dates were held at Iridium Jazz Club. This year the tour moved downtown, to the cavernous DROM space which has been hosting more Rock gigs lately, picking up the slack for the closed Webster Hall presumably. DROM is a nice venue with upscale ambiance, good acoustics, and, unlike The Iridium, no mandatory food/drink minimum.
John Ferrara, of progressive metal band Consider the Source, was the local opener for this date. To say that Ferrara merely plays bass guitar would be a massive understatement. Through use of various effects, loops, and innovative techniques, Ferrara weaved some really interesting melodies that were complex but still very listenable. It was easily the most musical use of electric bass I’ve ever heard. It was just him and a drummer but they generated enough sound to make you think of a much bigger ensemble.
Continue reading Tony MacAlpine @ DROM (9/22/2017)
Contributor Steven Stolper was on point enjoying the findings at the annual ProgPower USA Festival that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the Center Stage Atlanta theater and as already noted in one of the earlier chapters, PiercingMetal has NEVER been to the event despite the occasional interest. Fortunately, Agent Stolper was sending a final transmission to the Metal High Command from the field about this mission. Here now are his transcribed views bout the fourth and final day of ProgPowerUSA XVIII.
ProgPowerUSA XVIII Day 4: 3 days of nonstop music and parties take a toll on the body and the mind, so difficult choices had to be made and some sets were skipped. Pain and Amaranthe namely. All of the Day 4 bands except the opener were from Sweden, a testament to the country’s great contribution to the genre and popular music in general.
Seven Spires (USA):
Australia’s Teramaze was originally scheduled to perform in the opening timeslot, but unfortunately had to cancel a few days before due to health issues. That was upsetting because Teramaze was one of the bands I was looking forward to the most. Their latest album, Her Halo, was a really tasty slab of melodic prog metal. Boston’s SevenSpires answered the call and rushed to Georgia to bring their brand of metal to the masses. Seven Spires play aggressively melodic euro power metal with a female singer named Adrienne Cowan, who does both clean and extreme vocals equally well. Their video single, Cabaret of Dreams, sounded true to its name live, like a metallized groovy cabaret number. Other songs were more traditional, with many pounding harsh voiced numbers. The band had a very energetic stage presence and did a good job whipping the somewhat sleepy audience back into fighting shape.
Continue reading ProgPower USA XVIII Day Four Musings (9/9/2017)
Contributor Steven Stolper was on point enjoying the findings at the annual ProgPower USA Festival that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the Center Stage Atlanta theater. Historically speaking, PiercingMetal has NEVER been to the event but we’ve occasionally had interest in going based on the lineup for the year. I asked for a quick briefing of the acts that he saw and here are his transmissions to the High Command from the field about Day Three
ProgPowerUSA XVIII Day 3: Day 3 (or “Day 1” as it used to be known as until a couple of years ago) is when the ProgPower machine really revs into high gear. There are more bands (six versus four), longer sets performed, more autograph signing sessions, more merch and a whole lot more Prog. This year, almost all of the “Day 3” bands were heavy on the Progressive side with one notable exception being the visitors from Spain, Lords of Black. I assumed that this is due to different musical tastes of the booking teams of Days 1-2 vs 3-4. Although, as mentioned before, this seems to vary recently, probably based on touring schedules of non-exclusive bands. Speaking of exclusivity, all of the bands playing Friday, except Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress, are flying in specifically for the ProgPower event and are NOT doing standard tours of the regions around the country. This is what makes this festival so unique and attractive to fans of the genre living in the Americas. It is often the only opportunity to see these bands live.
Daydream XI (Brazil):
Brazilian newcomers opened the main event on Friday in a very impressive fashion. Smooth progressive metal with thick dual guitars and nice vox is a recipe that has very broad appeal for the ProgPower crowd. I was not familiar with the band’s material beforehand. I suppose that was true for most attendees, but the band’s music was easy to connect with. A friend described it as a more mellow and sexy Symphony X. Sounds about right. No one really wants to have to be too analytical about music at 2PM on a Friday anyway, especially after 2 days of the festival. Most impressively, singer Tiago Masseti also handled the second guitar duties, including many of the solos. Highlight of the set was a beautiful piano and vocals only ballad, which really showcased singer’s lovely voice.
Continue reading ProgPower USA XVIII Day Three Musings (9/8/2017)
Contributor Steven Stolper was on point enjoying the findings at the annual ProgPower USA Festival that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the Center Stage Atlanta theater. Historically speaking, PiercingMetal has NEVER been to the event but we’ve occasionally had interest in going based on the lineup for the year. I asked for a quick briefing of the acts that he saw and here are his transmissions to the High Command from the field about Day Two.
ProgPowerUSA XVIII Day 2: Sadly, I was a tad bit hungover from the previous day’s festivities which would cause me to miss the first band of the day – Next to None. This is the band that features the son of Mike Portnoy on drums so perhaps another time. That said, there was still plenty more music to see and hear over the course of the day so onward we march.
Twilight Force (Sweden):
This was the perfect way to start the night. Light happy fairy tale themed power metal with tales of dungeons, dragons, elves, and other creatures set to galloping Helloween style tunes. Hands were held high and choruses repeated. (Plastic) swords were unsheathed and brandished. Smiles all around. Band performed a very competent set of jolly songs, slaying the dragons of self-doubt and banishing negative emotions to distant realms, and all was right in the world.
Vanden Plas (Germany):
Back to the prog portion of the event. This veteran German band plays very smooth Dream Theater style melodic prog metal. Great dramatic singing. I seem to recall the singer also does musical theater productions back in Germany. Sounds about right. Songs are not super technical though there is a good amount of keyboards. Fans of recent Fates Warning albums would definitely appreciate Vanden Plas. This is an exclusive US appearance for Vanden Plas . I believe the only other time they performed here was at an earlier ProgPower some years ago. This is what this festival is truly about – bringing over groups who would otherwise remain unseen by the North American audiences.
Continue reading ProgPower USA XVIII Day Two Musings (9/7/2017)
Contributor Steven Stolper was following up to some inquiries I had made of him recently and then shared that he was away for the weekend enjoying the findings at the annual ProgPower USA Festival that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia at the Center Stage Atlanta theater. Historically speaking, PiercingMetal has NEVER been to the event but we’ve occasionally had interest in going based on the lineup for the year. With Steven on point, I asked for a quick briefing of the acts that he saw. Here are his transmissions to the High Command from the field.
ProgPower USA Musings. Day 1: It’s the end of summer. The time for the great annual Southern pilgrimage for fans of progressive and power metal. Every year fans of the genre from all over the world converge on Atlanta to feast their eyes and ears on the kind of music normally reserved for the big European metal fests. Following are some brief comments on the bands’ performances.
Power Quest (UK):
First North American appearance by this veteran British collective. Their guitar players could not make it over the pond so they recruited two Americans , including Bill Hudson (Jon Oliva, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Dirkschneider). The music was solid European style power metal, similar to Helloween. They were let down a bit by lackluster sound mix that did no favors to the vocals. Matt Smith of Theocracy, a great American power metal band, joined them on stage for a few songs.
Sound was much improved for Serenity. Vocals were a lot clearer and guitars really soared. Serenity’s brand of earnest symphonic metal was well received. Earlier material especially impressed with classy memorable songs.
Continue reading ProgPower USA XVIII Day One Musings (9/6/2017)