Judas Priest @ PNC Bank Arts Center (6/10/2005)

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Artist: Judas Priest
Venue: PNC Bank Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ
Opener: Queensryche
Label: Sony Records
Date: 6/10/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal

As much as I enjoyed the teaser set at last year’s Ozzfest, there was little that could bring down my level of excitement when I found out that Judas Priest would be touring the States again as a reunited band with Rob Halford leading the charge. As an added treat they had decided on Queensyche as their opener for this tour. It was a smart choice as Queensryche is always good live, however I felt Priest would have been better served by some promising up and coming Metal band. As one can expect Queensryche is continually good in live performance. Geoff Tate walks the stage with such a regal presence, he always has. Guitarist Mike Stone was sporting a greased up Mohawk this time making him appear to fit in more with a Blink or Charlotte band more than The ‘Ryche and he really rips of the guitar. Scott Rockenfield is using two bass drums once again which I am pleased to report and he is also showcasing his “RockenWraps” product. Every drum on his kit had them and it’s an interesting concept in customization to say the least. Eddie Jackson and Michael Wilton continue to impress me to this very day. Seasoned professionals all around. While it is a shame that Chris DeGarmo never returned for any of these killer shows (the live “Mindcrime” presentation last year and now the Priest tour), it seems as though the audience is no longer affected by it. Tate has also commented recently that the door is closed on that return at this point.
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“Live From The Full Throttle Saloon” by Jackyl

Artist: Jackyl
Title: “Live At The Full Throttle Saloon”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 9/28/2004
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10

Recorded live at the Sturgis Biker Rally, Jackyl has delivered to us an energetic set of their classic numbers. The piece is a pretty standard live album with little bantering between the singer Jesse James Dupree and the audience. This leaves more time for the music but also makes the piece run very quickly. The tracks selected are perfect for the seasoned fan of the group as well as someone who would like to give them a try. I was never more than the casual listener this CD worked for me as I viewed it more of a greatest hits live piece. Since it included all of the songs that I knew I was able to enjoy it a little easier.
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“Elegy” by Leaves’ Eyes

Artist: Leaves Eyes
Title: “Elegy” EP
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: 6/28/2005
Genre: Atmospheric/Gothic Metal
Rating: 7/10

The music of Leaves’ Eyes is easily something that will draw you into a new world of musical enjoyment from the first time that you listen to them. This great mixture of Atmospheric and Gothic Metal is not only heavy at points but sets an incredible mood that builds up and down as you listen to the albums. At present the group only has two other releases in “Lovelorn” and “The Vinland Saga” (each reviewed elsewhere on these pages) and this EP that focuses on the single “Elegy”. Besides the edited single for the track and full album version the group brings you a worthy EP by including 3 non-album tracks and a demo for “Solemn Sea”. I love the “Elegy” track as it is very “radio friendly” and should bring the group a nice audience for those who get to hear it. Showcasing Liv Kristine Krull’s angelic voice; the fans she has held from her days with Theatre Of Tragedy will enjoy the more melodic heaviness of this band as opposed to the straight Gothic edge of her previous work. I did not notice much of a difference in the demo of “Solemn Sea” as opposed to the album track other than it being a lesser production.
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“Battering Ram” by Iron Savior

Artist: Iron Savior
Title: “Battering Ram”
Label: Noise Records
Release Date: 6/22/2004
Genre: Heavy Metal/Power Metal
Rating: 9/10

This CD starts off with a bang that instantly gets you into the groove of the music. While Iron Savior has been around for a few albums already I have not had any exposure to them so I was not certain what to expect from them with this release. However, loading “Battering Ram” into the CD player did not give me any disappointment. One thing that stands out on this CD in particular is that it is a definite homage to the early power metal that came before it. Heavy tracks with excellent guitars and drums and vocal lines that make you raise your voices and fists into the air. There are also a wide variety of styles going through the piece, not all numbers are fast. One or two of them have a Judas Priest feel while others could be a Motley Crue track if done by those bands. Not bad comparisons.
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Anthrax @ Starland Ballroom (6/3/2005)

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Artist: Anthrax
Venue: Starland Ballroom – NJ
Opener: unsigned band
Label: Sanctuary Records
Date: 6/3/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal

Reunion Shows. The premise almost seems to lose its special sense when find yourself hearing about reunion after reunion of bands that had little or no impact on music or get faced with an astronomical fee to see such a performance. In any event none of these scenarios would be the case tonight. For this evening, on a rainy June night the 1985 lineup of Anthrax, quite possibly the most influential Thrash Metal bands in Heavy Metal history would take to the stage once more. Yes, you are reading this correctly as once again would Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frankie Bello, Dan Spitz and Joey Belladonna be joined as one unit to pull out all of the stops for their ardent fans. Starland Ballroom would be the place for the show, and I have continually enjoyed attending gigs at this venue. There are so many places to potentially stand and get a great visual of the bands and the sound system always seems good to me. I feel this would not have worked in Roseland Ballroom for it’s difficult to see if you are not immediate front. This event was sold out almost immediately and honestly that is a nice show of support of these guys from New York. I got myself a good position which was tough due to the capacity crowd and from this vantage point I got to safely review the activity from the ever swelling mosh pit. I briefly was able to catch up with Jack Frost of Seven Witches and D.D. Verni of Overkill. These guys were milling about and checking in with their friends and fans as everyone got set to witness a killer set by Anthrax. This show would be the first official performance of the tour and they would also be filming it for a soon to be released DVD. As a result everyone in the club was now taking part in something twice as historic. In front of the stage the screen had an image saying “welcome to the idiot convention”. Clearly Anthrax had not lost an ounce of their sense of humor in the twelve years that this lineup had been together.
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