Opeth @ Webster Hall (11/3/2005)

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Artist: Opeth
Venue: Webster Hall (New York, NY)
Opener: Nevermore, Into Eternity
Date: 11/3/2005
Label: Roadrunner Records

It wasn’t long after the release of “Ghost Reveries” that Opeth announced that they would be making a return trip to the USA and this would be a welcome visit in the eyes of the legions of Metal. Some fans had gotten to see the group perform on the “Sounds Of The Underground 2005” tour which brought you almost 20 Metal acts in one afternoon. The sad part of this was the fact that Opeth would play under 30 minutes and for those that know their material this is only about 3 songs. It’s quite ridiculous to think that one can even begin to capture the magic that this band puts together in that long a set. With “Ghost Reveries”, an album that many are calling one of the best in their catalog, the group takes elements of “Blackwater Park” and touches “Damnation” enough to combine into this unique expression. It’s an album that needs to be heard a few times to fully catch what it happening and this evening we would get a chance to absorb this and a whole lot more. The scene would be the very mysterious and brooding venue called Webster Hall. This is a deep and dark cavernous club that made the perfect setting for the type of music that Opeth would be bringing to life tonight. Capable of holding a capacity of about 1300 people this event sold out in only a few days. A note that is always worth mentioning when one hears that Metal is a dead issue, I like having something like this fact to remind them of how wrong they are.
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“Sleepy Buildings: A Semi Acoustic Evening” by The Gathering

Artist: The Gathering
Title: “Sleepy Buildings: A Semi Acoustic Evening”
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 3/9/2004
Genre: Atmospheric Rock
Rating: 8/10

The release of “Sleepy Buildings: A Semi Acoustic Evening” by The Gathering is a great piece of music and a perfect introduction to the haunting and beautiful melodies that the band lays down. This was my first exposure to the band in full having only heard samples of the signature release “Mandylion” during random band searches some time ago. I was glad to be able to sit down to fully absorb this album the way it merits and normally a live recording is not really the best means to give oneself an education in a band. Recorded live over a two night span at The Lux Theatre this Dutch sensation brings you into a richly atmospheric and passionate listen that will leave you wanting more when it completes. If you compare her talent to other female singers who perform in the style that she has I can safely say that Anneke Van Giersbergen has one of the most beautiful voices in music. The overall quality of the music and the textures that Hans and Rene Rutten, Frank Boeijen and Hugo Prinsen Geerligs deliver on the album makes you wonder how this band had not captured a larger fan base outside of Europe and the Scandinavian countries. While there are sections on the recording that might seem to lean toward the melancholy this is not standard R&R or Gothic Rock but instead a blend of Atmospheric Rock and an almost Acid Jazz type of sound that can stand on its own very strongly next to female fronted acts on the Alanis Morrissette level. As a matter of fact I found the messages and music on this album to be deeper in thought than anything given to us by Alanis over the last few years. I even detected a little bit of Portishead in the music. The album splits the music into two forms of delivery with some being acoustic based and the rest a little more electronically assisted. The listener will be amazed at how hypnotized the audience at the concert is with this music as you don’t hear a whisper from them during the performance until the song completes. This is a very well-produced recording and it includes a lot of the older material that was never performed by this lineup and they also present a brand new track entitled “Sleepy Buildings” which was prepared for this release exclusively.
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Meshuggah @ B.B. King Blues Club (10/7/2005)

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Artist: Meshuggah & God Forbid
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: The Haunted & Mnemic
Date: 10/7/2005
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

The tour was labeled “The Fury Of The Fall” and it certainly made sense given that it put a great roster of Century Media Records and Nuclear Blast Records heaviest hitters alongside the one and only Meshuggah. The venue would be the ever popular B.B. King Blues Club which I have been to more times than I can recall at present in my quest to bring you the Metal. Joining Meshuggah would be Mnemic (Denmark), The Haunted (Sweden) and God Forbid (US) and it was clear very early on that this would be one kick ass performance. The lack of available tickets that day to the sold-out venue was a testament to the support and interest that all of these bands were generating and it slams down those that say no one comes to shows anymore. Tonight 1100 crazed for the Metal friends were in the house and the vibe of the air was exciting to say the least. I liked how this tour featured several different Countries as well rather than one area dominating the show. Here is a little on each of the groups.
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“Storm and Stress” by Still Life Decay

Artist: Still Life Decay
Title: “Storm and Stress”
Label: Unsigned
Release Date: 2004
Genre: Industrial/Gothic
Rating: Very Good

Still Life Decay is a band that I met at some dark NYC club gathering and after this encounter I could only say that they are as serious about their music as anyone could be. The scene of Industrial and Gothic music has a different audience than that of your standard Metal crowd yet as I listened to this album entitled “Storm and Stress” I felt it was safe to say that Metal fans would appreciate a lot of what is going on in the recording. Powerful riffs over throbbing drum patterns all laced with interesting samples and electronic themes make the feel very intense and above it all their singer Fade screams, growls and whispers to whatever degree the track merits. His delivery is solid and surely sets up a lot of the mood in this very deep recording. Fade not only handles the duties on the microphone but also makes sure that all of the necessary programming involved is just right for the music. This allows the band to bring you deeper into their world and make it an experience you will not soon forget. They also must know the right people as they are joined by Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell on the track “Detach” which is among my favorites. “Align” was also a repeat listen for me as it brought a little bit of a Nine Inch Nails feel to the piece and I based it more for the creative samplings and steady electronics than a direct copy of NIN. I had felt that “Resuscitate” was a number that appealed to me most as a Metal listener and with that decided that there was a little bit of everything in this band that makes investigation into them a good thing to do. It’s a journey into despair and agony that you will most likely not recover from very easily.
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HIM @ The Electric Factory (11/23/2005)

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Artist: H.I.M.
Venue: The Electric Factory (Philadelphia, PA)
Opener: Skindred, Finch
Date: 11/23/2005
Label: Sire Records

I was invited by Friends who had an extra ticket for the Philadelphia show and figured why not go one more time. My main reasoning was that I had never been to the Electric Factory and it sounded like a cool place to check out a show. The truth be told it was very much that and we even began the trek by sampling authentic Philly Cheese-Steak sandwiches. Proving to everyone that even the staunchest New Yorker can be an inexperienced tourist. Anyway let me get back to the show; the Electric Factory reminded me a lot of Irving Plaza in NYC with it being a mid-sized venue with a sizable upstairs and balconies to hang out on. It seemed to be able to hold the same amount of people as this venue (1100). The main and only difference is that the bar is upstairs and this keeps it an older crowd up there while the folks under 21 remain downstairs. At this show I was able to see the opening bands and this time around Fireball Ministry was added to the bill. I had seen this band perform with Dio and Anthrax not too long ago and at that show I hated them but in the context of a H.I.M. show they were dead-on and fit perfectly. This time around I was able to catch both Skindred and Finch and I have to say that I felt both bands were severely lacking. Skindred mixes Reggae with Heavy Metal and I found the result a terrible thing to behold. It seemed like some folks liked it but the larger amount of the crowd seemed to be in my corner on this. Finch came up immediately after and they were just as unimpressive with their music being a cacophony of screaming notes and equally annoying vocals. The odd part of Finch especially with the lead singer seeming to perform mainly to the stage amplifiers and the drum kit. If he came to the front stage for a second it would be an understatement. I remember asking the girls behind me if the band realized we were there as an audience. Maybe I am missing something in both bands but I am hard pressed to think so. If this is what Emo is all about you can keep it and let me enjoy something else.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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