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PiercingMetal’s “Best Of Decade”: 2000-2009: The Concerts

As I’ve previously noted, we’ve always aimed to deliver a year end “Best Of” list and with the end of the decade just having happened, it’s time to continue our thoughts about what was the “Best Of The Decade” from 2000-2009 – I’ve already doled out the Music and Video picks and now it’s time to get into the live concerts that we found the most enjoyable over the past ten years.

I was not really planning on doing a decade spanning concert “best of” but many of the readers of the site had sent me emails after the list posted inquiring about those events which I thought were the biggest highlights to me. Based on the interest, I figured that it was better to append the article to also feature this information of be stuck answering emails over and over. I’ve been fortunate as a writer and photographer to get to enjoy a large number of shows and I hope that you enjoy the list I came up with.

Van Halen @ Madison Square Garden (Warner Music Group): The Brothers Van Halen reunited with David Lee Roth made this one of the highlights of my decade. Yes Michael Anthony was no longer a part of the band but I could live with that since it gave me back Dave. The hits were non-stop at the show and I think I watched it five feet above the floor where my seat was. Everyone in NYC was dancing the night away that’s for sure.

Iron Maiden @ Madison Square Garden (EMI Music): This show was for the “Brave New World” CD that many loved for bringing back Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith into the fold. I loved it for its amazing level of energy and how it showed just how good Maiden was and the fact that it had Rob Halford as the opener and Queensryche. OK I admit that I didn’t feel the Ryche were all that good that night and were rather slow after the Halford set. It was fantastic seeing Rob’s then new band in action of course as he was still years away from rejoining Judas Priest.

The Gathering @ The Knitting Factory (The End Records): I was a casual fan of The Gathering and my buddies who went to the show with me were much more into them, but seeing them in this smaller space was fantastic. Very moody and atmospheric stuff and done well in the live sense. Anneke sang like a siren and one of the openers was an unknown group called Unexpect. I’ve been a supporter of theirs since that night and feel that this appearance gave me a heads up on a terrific band many years before the rest of the folks would catch on.

HIM @ The Bowery Ballroom (Universal Music): While working at one of the investment banks from hell I scanned a video for HIM which was “Join Me In Death” and I was hooked and did my best to find a couple of the bands albums. Their first show on US soil in NYC would be at The Bowery Ballroom and the two nights were close to sold out. We caught the first show I believe but its been awhile and in any case it was amazing to see HIM in such an intimate room. Going forward we would watch the band play larger places each time and having all of the shows sell out well in advance.

Kamelot @ B.B. King Blues Club (SPV Records): I am referring to the first time that I ever caught Kamelot performing at B.B. King Blues Club and not one of the other four times. I was very new to the band and how they did things but it was a smoking show and one that made many fans for the guys who would rally to their cause in the future. They continue to impress the masses and we love them for it.

Ozzfest 2004 @ Jones Beach Ampitheater (Epic Records): This particular Ozzfest was one that would find a reunited Black Sabbath once again and Judas Priest who were now back in action with Rob Halford on vocals. The show also featured Slayer and the mighty Dimmu Borgir which brought the heaviness and the darkness into play. A dramatic night that had a thunderstorm looming over our heads and definitely making the atmosphere electric. My companion and I arrived during the Superjoint Ritual set and honestly hated the way they sounded. We were fine in picking up the musical night from the Dimmu set and onward.

Nightwish @ L’Amour’s (Century Media Records): Back when this show took place I had been listening to Nightwish casually but steadily and while I expected no one to be in the club it was jam packed like the old days. Turns out they had a lot more support over here than I realized. I commented about the show on the Bravewords site and ended up with the words posted online. This led me to receive an email asking for more information about the show and I gladly complied to those folks over at the Metal Circus. I’ve been writing concert and product reviews ever since.

Ozzfest 2007 @ PNC Bank Arts Center (Epic Records): The free Ozzfest was very appealing to me as a fan of Metal and as a growing in scope music journalist because of the bands that it presented to the audience. Ozzy would headline of course but opening up for him would be Lamb Of God, Static X, Lordi and Behemoth along with up and comers like In This Moment and Chthonic. It would be perhaps the heaviest of this festival yet when it came down to it and those who wisely got their early enough never forgot the show.
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PiercingMetal’s “Best Of Decade” 2000-2009: Music and Video

Since starting up the website we have tried our best to maintain an annual list of what we felt was the most stand out of music releases, videos and live concert events. It’s generally a daunting task since being a reviewer of these wide scoping mediums you really have to keep it maintained as the year progresses along. This year the task would be much more involved and intense because it was also the end of the decade and closed out on a very amazing number of years in the Metal realm. Initially I had added the previous ten years views at the end of the “Best Of 2009” thoughts but realized that this was better presented as a standalone piece. That would allow me to keep it as something special of its own and allow for easier digestion and research into the picks. Having been to a lot of shows and listened to a lot of music that was submitted in addition to that which was purchased I did my best at giving a tip of the hat to some of the things that we could recall as being of significant importance on the Metal and Hard Rock scene over the last ten years. I’m going to break this up into two parts and start with the music and videos. I hope you enjoy it.

PiercingMetal.com’s Top 10 CD Releases Of The Decade: 2000-2009:

Are you kidding me? You actually expect me to define only ten releases for an entire decade when the last five years of my life have been spent reviewing music…..do you people realize just how many albums that comes out to when you add it all up? OK, so even though I am closing in on 1000 actual CD reviews for the website, I will give a quick nod to ten of the albums that I found very appealing to my Metal and Hard Rock ears. You know what, since this is a big occasion and only happens once every ten years I will give you even more than CD preferences and add to the mix some of the DVD’s that I found to be noteworthy and make this whole thing a little more worth reading. Please understand that we did NOT offer up a top to bottom ranking on this list and just wanted you to be aware of some of our favorite releases from the decade that spanned from 2000-2009. Enjoy.

Kamelot “Ghost Opera” (SPV Records): The mighty Kamelot followed up their astounding “Black Halo” CD with this album and while they had already snared me with that release, this one signed the paperwork in blood.

KISS “Alive” Boxed Set (Universal Music): You’re probably screaming at me for including a CD boxed set that compiles all three existing KISS “Alive” recordings and offers up a long missing fourth one and if you are too bad about you. I found these albums inspirational, well at least the first two, and to find all of it put in one handy place with a superb booklet I could find no fault in this and it truly was one of my favorite items over the past ten years.

The 69 Eyes “Devils” (EMI Music): For me this ranks as one of the Decade’s best because it was an album that opened the band up to an entirely new fan base since it was the first of the bands catalog to be available in this part of the world. It would be followed by the full back catalogue but without this one they still might have been a best kept musical secret from Finland. My own first go at the band came via “Blessed Be” and the track “Brandon Lee”, so while a few years late to the party still a fan since that time.

Unexpect “In A Flesh Aquarium” (The End Records): This band defies description more than it does not and shows just how much room there is in modern Metal music. Take Progressive, Black Metal, Jazz and blend it up for this tasty musical cocktail. Diversity thy name is Unexpect.

Metallica “Death Magnetic” (Warner Music Group): Love it or not based on the “production” that some experts are lambasting, this was the album that showed us all that Metallica could still kick our ass with a Metal album. Now Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and MTV Icons, they chose to no longer take the role for granted and pummeled us.

Nightwish “Wishmaster” (Century Media Records): This 2001 release would be the album for the band that would somehow spark my own interest in reviewing albums and concerts so how could it not be on my list of best of the decade.

Porcupine Tree “Fear Of A Blank Planet” (Atlantic Records): Really just an incredible album and one that broke a lot of new fans for the work. Congratulations Mr. Wilson.

Marillion “Marbles” (Racket Records): This album proved to be that Marillion still had what it took to impress and inspire me and what came afterward made me question this once again found trust. Oh well.
Continue reading PiercingMetal’s “Best Of Decade” 2000-2009: Music and Video

PiercingMetal’s “Best Of” 2009: The Music Part 2

Hello again, and welcome back to the continuing “Best Of” 2009 lists. This is chapter two of my favorite albums for the year since I had so many. Don’t worry, I loved a lot of concerts, books and videos but those will have to get their own chapter as well. With this installment I have also featured those releases which were older albums that found a re-issue. I’ve never minded reviewing back catalog here on the website and as we head towards out fifth year in 2010 can only see that process continuing. Okay let’s take a look at the picks.

The Best Albums Of 2009 Continued:

Immortal “All Shall Fall” (Nuclear Blast Records): The Dark Gods of the frozen wastelands are back and shall take no prisoners. Welcome back gentleman, we’ve been waiting for this one for awhile.

Nile “Those Whom The Gods Detest” (Nuclear Blast Records): This angry little title only briefs you on the massive sound delivered by Nile on their latest. Could this be the bands magnum opus, one might think so after hearing it a couple of times. That’s good for the genre all around.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra “Night Castle” (Lava Records): It’s finally here and offers fans of the Symphonic Hard Rock orchestra a lot of cool treats. There are some covers and remakes on this one for the old Savatage crowd and a lot of new instrumentals and lyrical pieces that both amaze and inspire. Nice work.

The Smithereens “Tommy” (E1 Entertainment): Classic rockers re-do most of the amazing Rock Opera by The Who. Their renditions were solid and worthy of praise. Cool.

The Gathering “The West Pole” (Season Of Mist Records): Another band with some history and yet another new lead singer. Did it work out, well, yes it did indeed.

Chimaira “The Infection” (Ferret Music): Brutal, powerful and very, very heavy. This bands name breathes Metal and the music on this release is the proof in the pudding.

Them Crooked Vultures “Them Crooked Vultures” (Interscope Records): Another super group but this one features John Paul Jones…….JOHN PAUL JONES!!!!! Awesome stuffs.

Shadow’s Fall “Retribution” (Shadows Fall Records): Solid effort from these original leaders in the Nu-Metal field.

The Last Vegas “Whatever Gets You Off” (Eleven Seven Music): Really enjoyed the Trash/Sleaze Rock of these winners of the Guitar Player contest. I sense good and big things a coming for these boys.

White Wizzard “High Speed GTO” (Earache Records): Kicking it Old School never sounded so good.
Continue reading PiercingMetal’s “Best Of” 2009: The Music Part 2

“Winter Songs” by Halford

Artist: Halford
Title: “Winter Songs”
Label: Metal God Entertainment
Release Date: 11/3/2009
Genre: Holiday Metal
Rating: 4/5

“It’s a very Halford Christmas” as the Metal God himself steps outside of his duties with Judas Priest and delivers a Heavy Metal Holiday album with Halford and while the premise might strike you as a little weird, the end result is oddly satisfying. Given the powerhouse potential of the musicians that made up Halford in the first place and the fact that such Holiday-themed releases have been coming out in record number and actually being on the interesting side I ended up with high hopes for Rob and the boys and am happy to report that they did not let me down. I’ve long been a fan of the juggernaut holiday enterprise that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and the ever rising popularity of their “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” album which successfully blended heavy riffs into a holiday theme. Their use of Savatage riffs and classical melody to this end was bound to find other Metal artists tossing their own Santa hats into the arena and since this truly became the case why not see how the Metal God would do at it.
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“Live At Rock In Rio III” by Halford

Artist: Halford
Title: “Live At Rock In Rio III”
Label: Metal God Entertainment
Release Date: 10/7/2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

“Attention to all the fans of Rob Halford the Metal God, as it is time to get out your credit cards because the DVD film that we have waited for many years to be released has finally arrived.” Yes, thanks to Rob’s own Metal God Entertainment company we will be able to enjoy the “Rock In Rio III” concert in the comfort of our own home after knowing for so long that the film existed and was just this far out of our reach. Of course I am sure that something lackluster was available on some kind of bootleg that one would find at conventions that cater to music, but the chance to own the real deal is really something special. The show comes very early in the career of the band that Rob simply called Halford and I remember that when he performed in NYC around this time it was as opener for Iron Maiden on a triple bill that also featured Queensryche. For that show Halford performed first and it was the only time that I ever saw the entire audience in place for the opening act. Let’s face it; Rob Halford surely deserves this kind of treatment.
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