Mudvayne @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (11/30/2005)

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Artist: Mudvayne
Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Square
Opener: Sevendust
Date: 11/30/2005
Label: Sony Music

Called “The Masters Of Horror” tour; Mudvayne would be performing a headlining set once again and in addition to the continued support of their release “Lost & Found” the band was also hot off their appearance on Ozzfest. They would also be showcasing their contributions to “The Masters Of Horror” program which currently airs on Showtime and takes the Horror film industry’s greatest directors and gives them an hour to work with. Directors have been John Carpenter and John Landis among many others and Mudvayne was one of the many bands whose music is appearing in the program. Developments in the bands career like these escalate their exposure in fantastic ways. Joining the band would be 10 Years, Bobaflex and the one and only Sevendust. I had just covered Mudvayne a few months ago and was really interested in seeing Sevendust live after so many years of hearing their music. I would miss the 10 Years and Bobaflex set but there will be plenty more times to catch them I am certain.
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“Live In Athens” by Fates Warning

Artist: Fates Warning
Title: “Live In Athens”
Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 11/22/2005
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 7/10

Fates Warning has long been referred to as one of the first bands to venture in the realm of Metal and Progressive Music. While then ground was laid first by Rush and carried strong by Queensryche, it seemed that Fates Warning kept a lot more of their Metal core and introduced more and more progressive feels as they went forward. “Awaken The Guardian” is still revered to this day and while the group has had numerous lineup changes since that time and their release of “X” they still prove to be a group with staying power and musical efficiency. This concert performance (filmed in Athens in early 2005) shows the current lineup performing a great selection of their material from across the years. The early fans of the John Arch era material might balk somewhat at the complete lack of any of these songs from this time period but there is still enough music included that I feel most supporters of the band could enjoy. Many reviews I have seen described the small stage setting but to me it seemed fine as I had once seen the band perform set up in small confines in Manhattan clubs of the past. There is not much visually to this group anyway and it’s more about the music they are delivering. Sound and production of the DVD is excellent as far as the audio goes with the band sounding tight and on the money. Ray Alder truly shines vocally and is up on the list with Progressive giants of today in my opinion. Visually this left me a little wanting based more on the camera angles being mostly close-ups or pan outs. The only member from the bands original lineup is Jim Matheos who is joined by Alder (vocals), Joey Vera (bass) formerly of Anthrax and Armored Saint. Nick D’Virgilio (drums) from Spock’s Beard and Frank Aresti (guitar). Musically this is a great front line and as you watch them perform you see them doing so in relative ease. That’s the sign of professionals when it looks easy. Of the included selections the material from the last album is done particularly well and should send people looking into this among other releases. “Simple Human” is great as is “Another Perfect Day”.
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“A Sound Relief” by The Gathering

Artist: Gathering
Title: “A Sound Relief”
Label: The End/Psychonaut Records
Release Date: 10/25/2005
Genre: Atmospheric Rock
Rating: 9/10

When you first hear the music of The Gathering you will most likely find yourself wondering why you have not heard more of this group on mainstream radio or cable music feeds. The group that began as a heavy Gothic outfit has matured, grown in style and skill and as result gives the listener/viewer a “trippy & airy” level of Atmospheric Rock. This would only be my second exposure to this wonderful musical experience, with my first being the largely acoustic album “Sleepy Buildings” from 2003. That album gave US fans a great sampling of their material but still it seemed as though many would miss the boat and not pick up on it. The group formed 15 years ago and based on internet samplings of their older stuff they have grown into something far different from how they started out. Hailing from the Netherlands, The Gathering is fronted by the amazing Anneke van Giersbergen. As you listen to her siren like voice you can see that this was a performer who set and raised the bar on such talented female singers like those who perform with Nightwish, After Forever and Epica. I am sure there are more who fall in line with this band being a pivotal influence and now thanks to the folks at The End Records, the US growing fanbase is able to enjoy this video performance as well. Musically this concert is astounding in its production and delivery. The audience is dead silent during the pieces performed until the very completion and then its resonating. The stage setting is limited with screens showing different forms of video which are brought to better life on the DVD screen for the viewer at home. The level of performance in the musicians (Frank Boeijen, Marjolein Kooijman and Hans and Rene Rutten) is incredible and showcases just how good a band can sound after so many years together. Not sticking to their original form shows them as performers who have matured past what they helped to introduce and the end result is nothing short of fascinating. Fans will find it interesting to note that for some months on the tour which this was filmed that Anneke was 4 months pregnant. From the concert I had a number of favorite pieces such as “Rescue Me”, “Red Is A Slow Colour” and “Amity”. The more I listen to these tracks the more I feel that people are missing out by not looking into them further. The concert itself runs the span of the first DVD while the second features all of the bonus features.
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“Axes 2 Axes” by Eddie Ojeda

Artist: Eddie Ojeda
Title: “Axes 2 Axes”
Label: Black Lotus Records
Release Date: 11/3/2005
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Rating: 5.5/10

Twisted Sister’s well-known axe man Eddie Ojeda has signed to Black Lotus Records and given us his very first solo recording. As a long time fan of his work with Twisted Sister I was interested in seeing what the end result would be on a solo effort that was for a change completely under his direction and control. Eddie performs a large amount of the lead vocals and his band is made up of Joe Franco (drums, who also played in Twisted Sister for an album and was a member of Dee Sniders Widowmaker) and Chris McCarvill on bass guitar. As I listened to the whole CD I felt myself wanting for something a little better and felt a tad disappointed in it more than I was put over the top. Eddie does not have a bad voice but I felt it would have been better to have someone else perform the vocals on the release who really could stand out and help him hold a great solo performer identity. He did have help from such vocal powerhouses as Ronnie James Dio, Dee Snider and Joe Lynn Turner but the Dio song seemed like Ron was just going through the motions on “Tonight”. Dee’s contribution is a very Twisted Sister-esque version of the Beatles classic Eleanor Rigby and I thought this was just terrible. Perhaps if it was featured on a Twisted album I could have looked at it differently but in this context it was awful. Joe Lynn Turner’s assistance on “Living Free” is not bad but I would have liked to hear the pipes that he possesses in an effort to kick the album up a little more. Eddie’s voice did manage to shine on “The Reason”. This power ballad worked for him since the vocals are in a lower register and did not push him to a point he could not attain. He also did pretty well on “Love Power” which is an overall throwback to a 70’s kind of groove. “Please Remember” was ok but that reminded me a lot of Sister in its main riffing.
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Yngwie J. Malmsteen @ B.B. King Blues Club (12/1/2005)

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Artist: Yngwie Malmsteen
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club – NYC
Opener: Orange Sky
Date: 12/1/2005
Label: Spitfire Records

Yngwie Malmsteen is a legend in the halls of Rock guitar and as I have enjoyed his music for many years this was set to be a very cool memory to my concert coverage. As this was his first solo tour in some years there was something special about seeing his name up on the B.B. King marquee. When I shot my photo of this site I realized that while a fan of his playing that it would be the first time that I would see Yngwie perform in over 15 years. Outside of appearances on the G3 Tours, he did not perform solo shows very often. In 2005; Yngwie found a return to his classic style with his CD release “Unleash The Fury” and he would also make available his “Concierto For Electric Guitar” DVD. Both of these killer products came to the public care of Eagle Rock Entertainment and Spitfire Records. These added to the general Yngwie buzz and when announcements for the solo touring became news the shows sold out in minutes. If you were not on top of things you would sadly be one of those who missed out on a great evening of music.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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