All posts by Ken Pierce

Ken Pierce is an NYC based Music Journalist and the Editor In Chief of; He's been documenting the live Metal and Rock scene of the Big Apple since 2003 and believes that there is always something exciting happening in this Metropolis.

“One Night In New York City” by Yellow Matter Custard

Artist: Yellow Matter Custard
Title: “One Night In New York City”
Label: Radiant Records
Release Date:
Genre: Rock & Roll
Rating: 8/10

There is no question about the impact of The Beatles on modern music and the effect is so profound that you can listen to songs recorded over thirty years ago and still find the material fresher than most of today’s newest “stars” and producer “concoctions”. This impact also holds a historical side as most records that have been set by The Beatles have yet to be matched. The fact that Yellow Matter Custard came to be is a statement to this history as it takes the combined forces of Neil Morse, Mike Portnoy, Matt Bissonette, and Paul Gilbert (all amazing talents) and puts them in a situation where they are playing some of their favorite Beatles tunes. Fans of Progressive music would enjoy this as both Portnoy and Morse are leaders in that genre. Morse for his work with Spock’s Beard and Portnoy of course in Dream Theater. Matt Bissonette (bassist) has played with David Lee Roth and Paul Gilbert was the guitar wizard behind Racer X and Mr. Big. Each of them sing while Neal Morse pretty much holds the main vocal duties. You might ask yourself if the vocals come off as good as the Beatles might in a live setting. The answer is a resounding yes and the players execute it very well. This 2CD set is your chance to own the official “bootleg” of the performance. Radiant Records has released this piece which was recorded live at B.B. King Blues Club on May 18th 2003. The Portnoy and Morse produced recording takes the entire concert and brings it to your living room. It is truly difficult to gauge how good or bad this is when you take into consideration the fact that this was primarily done for the fun of it. Is it good, well yes it is and there are moments of brilliance especially on their renditions of “A Day In The Life” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
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Thor @ The Continental (8/5/2005)

Logo - Thor

Artist: Thor
Venue: The Continental – NYC
Opener: Goat Horn, Nasty Disaster (unsigned bands)
Date: 8/5/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal

In addition to CBGB’s there is another legendary Punk venue where you can catch a killer show in an intimate setting. The club is The Continental and it is located in the Village in NYC. Tonight this was to be the scene of the The Return Of Thor, the Legendary Rock Warrior. Since I knew this was going to be a lot of fun I made sure to get there early enough to enjoy all of the festivities that were planned. Many people might not be aware but Thor has been a performer for over 20 years and in addition to Rocking Mighty with his sacred hammer, he performs feats of strength and endurance during the show. The night began with a few interesting groups who were all unsigned and while there were four in total I was only able to focus on a couple of them in particular as I was catching up with Friends as well. Goat Horn was a powerful and very fun Metal trio who played up the Death thing with a whole lot of melody. Given this was a Thor show I was not sure if some of the other acts would be of the same caliber of show. I wondered if GH was doing their music with a little tongue-in-cheek humor. I wondered this because the singer made the audience spell out Satan before the song that seemed to be called “Satan Is Coming”. Of course keeping the tongue firmly in cheek was hard to do when Nasty Disaster came onstage. This was a band that played Metal with songs that were about Metal. I have to say that they were a lot of fun from guitarist Ian McRock and songs like “Slut” it was just an amusing experience. I recommend looking out for them both.
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“My Darkness” by Before The Dawn

Artist: Before The Dawn
Title: “My Darkness”
Label: Locomotive Music
Release Date: 4/1/2003
Style: Gothic Metal
Rating: 9/10

This CD would be my introduction to Before The Dawn and like most listeners these days I approach new things with equal levels of curiosity and hesitation. When I find a band that I have never heard of before I am sometimes afraid of what will be discovered when I play the CD for the first time. However when I placed the copy of “My Darkness” in the changer this was not to be the case. Beginning with a slight intro piece the groove laid out in “Unbrakeable” just hooked me instantly. When the dirty growls of Toumas Saukkonen came in I was sold. The CD has many different things going on in its favor. They use both styles of singing mixing the clean with the dirty to some effect. Most of the instrumentation is programmed and under the direction of Saukkonen making this project pretty much under his command almost like Trent Reznor would do with his group Nine Inch Nails. While this tended to lean towards the Gothic end for me, I felt a lot of Doom mixed with Black was an inspiration as well in its composition. The riffs are nice and heavy and the drumming solid throughout this mostly catchy CD (but the drums are programmed). I felt compelled to listen to the whole CD a few times before I could come up with words on it and key tracks for me were “My Darkness”, “Unbrakeable” and “Take My Pain”. I do admit a sense of lying to readers though since I pretty much enjoyed the whole piece more than just a few referenced tracks.
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“Touched By The Crimson King” by Demons & Wizards

Artist: Demons & Wizards
Title: “Touched By The Crimson King”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 6-28-2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

Taking the creative minds of Jon Schaffer and Hansi Kursch is certainly going to give you a unique Metal experience and with “Touched By The Crimson King” these two Legends certainly deliver. Given their already well-known work in Blind Guardian and Iced Earth it is pretty much expected for the combined efforts of Demons & Wizards to be nothing short of exemplary. The group also does not suffer any lag time with this second release from the project as each tune is fresh and very well put together. Originally I felt this record had more of a Blind Guardian feel to it, but lost that quickly after a few more listens. It is very important to note that this mindset of expecting either Blind Guardian or Iced Earth should be lost in order to fully appreciate this music. Use it as a frame of reference but enjoy the exponential growth this is able to offer you. Starting off the release is the title track “Touched By The Crimson King” and this is one rousing number. It also showcases the ever exciting drumming of Bobby Jarzombek (Iced Earth, Halford, Riot) who is a welcome addition to this group in my opinion. Thinking this is impressive in terms of drums will quickly have you second guessing when “Terror Train” begins. This is a blistering track and the guitar and drum feel that encompasses it speeds by you and yet is also very well laced with a technical flair. Hansi’s voice is on point for the whole record as he showcases both his powerful side on numbers that dictate this be so as well as the softer side on the ballad type numbers. As I enjoy Metal ballads I found particular interest in the ones they did on this release. “Seize The Day” and “Wicked Witch” are great from a ballad standpoint.
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Powerman 5000 @ B.B. King Blues Club (7/17/2005)

Logo - Powerman 5000

Artist: Powerman 5000
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club – NYC
Opener: unknown
Label: Megatronic Records
Date: 7/17/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal

Powerman 5000 rolled back into New York and it was to be an interesting night to say the least. The return by Rob Zombie’s Brother Spider One would the first show in the City after a reasonable absence from doing so and it was to be held on a sweltering humid and rainy Sunday. As one walked in (which we did pretty close to Showtime) you could see that this appearance did not have a massive overall draw. If 150 people were there it would be a surprise. However, given the weather conditions and the fact that this was a Sunday evening in the middle of vacation months I felt this was the larger culprit at hand. When you add to the fact that the group is no longer signed to a major label, drawing over 100 people is still very good. I walked around the room as I am apt to do to see the scope of people who attend these things. One person way up front explained he felt there was no one here because these people don’t care about Rock and Roll anymore. “Too much nonsense is on the radio and its killing good music” he said. I am apt to agree with some of that, but still felt that everyone in the place was a diehard 5K fan.
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