Black Label Society @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (10/26/2005)

Logo - Black Label Society

Artist: Black Label Society
Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Square
Opener: Brand New Sin
Date: 10/26/2005
Label: Artemis Records

Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society came to town tonight and it seemed as though the Nokia Theatre in Times Square would need to send out for a beer run. Opening the show was Brand New Sin, who I sadly missed most of. They sounded good from what I did see yet only seemed to do a 45 minute set. Snaring pictures would be impossible as there was terrible lighting and the group was not allowing flash photography. As I understand the group would be supporting their latest release on Century Media Records entitled “Recipe For Disaster”. It’s definitely the kind of group that was a perfect opener for BLS. I hope to be able to see them again or review some of their music if the means to do some becomes an option. There is a lot of good Rock and Roll to these guys and after their set lead singer Joe Altier was seen walking around the venue shaking hands and posing for pictures with fans. I always find that a cool thing to do when it is possible for the band to do it.
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“The Black Halo” by Kamelot

Artist: Kamelot
Title: “The Black Halo”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 3/15/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

As I listened to “The Black Halo” I felt a bit behind the times when I realized that this would be my first time hearing the music of Kamelot in a full sitting. Before this I had only heard samples of their last effort “Epica” which is not to be confused with the Dutch band of the same name. It was pretty quick into this listen that I also realized that this was the type of band that I had been looking for when it came to intelligent Melodic Power Metal. The genre has a powerful ally as Kamelot most certainly deliver in an amazing fashion by using killer musical hooks that are all led by an incredible vocal range. On this release vocalist Roy Khan and the guys continue along with their running theme of using the literary classic “Faust” for the albums storyline. When the CD begins with the “March Of Mephisto” you are treated to one of the first guest vocalists on the album as Khan shares the duties with Shagrath, from the Norwegian Black Metal band Dimmu Borgir. It is the perfect role for Shagrath as he brings darkness to the tune. The second vocalist joining Kamelot on the album is the beautiful Simone Simons from Operatic Power Metal sensations Epica. She and Khan share the words on “The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)” and this is a stellar number. Light and Dark prominently featured on the same record a mere song apart from each other. If you are among those that enjoy slower tracks there is “Abandoned” and “Moonlight” with Khan handling them with a fine tuned degree of passion. There is nothing like a power ballad when it is done correctly. Should you be looking for lightning quick tracks then the band also provides a number of these for you to enjoy. The standouts in this area are “Soul Society”, “When The Lights Are Down” and “Nothing Ever Dies”. There is enough double bass patterns and intricate guitar work in these to satisfy the most discerning of Metal fans.
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“Hellectric” by Bronx Casket Company

Artist: Bronx Casket Company
Title: “Hellectric”
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Date: 10/18/2005
Genre: Gothic Metal
Rating: 7.5/10

When you think of a band that combines the talents of Overkill’s D.D. Verni and Tim Mallare as well as the guitar work of Jack Frost you envision some stellar Power Thrash Metal band to be result of the teamwork. However when you add the keyboards of Charlie Calv and vocalist Spy (Myke Hideous of Misfits/Empire Hideous) you get something entirely different. Instead of raging thrash or things along those lines you find this release to be more in tune with Gothic Metal. I liked this change for it added the level of interest to these players’ collaborations and did not give me “Seven Witches 2” or “Overkill 2”. However one of the main points that stand out very early in this release is the dead-on sound of Type-O-Negative. This caught me off guard as it was not only in some of the vocal tones that Spy offered but also the feel of the overall groove especially in the area of keyboards and guitars. Type-O-Negative was known for certain feels during their songs and their music is something that many have missed while the band works on new material. This void made the CD a welcome listen but it was also because this was something that was totally unexpected from Verni and Frost. The BCC does maintain a level of heaviness throughout the album but they do not take the levels of heaviness up to the notch that TON does insofar as high speed riffing. This heavy groove comes through most prominently on the songs “Little Dead Girl”, “Everything I Got” and “Dream Of Angels” among the others and I have to say that these became my favorites right off the bat. With the song “Sherimoon” the band delivers a sense of Rob Zombie under the Gothic grind that is laid down and there is a quirky little instrumental which employs some of “The Munsters” theme. They perform a cover of the Lynryd Skynryd classic “Free Bird” and while it’s given a Gothic twist that works I am not sure how this will be received by the larger public. There are some songs that should not be changed and I think most will agree that this is one of them. The band does a nice job of it and I am sure it was more an homage than anything else.

I have to say that I enjoyed this record as a whole and I really think fans of Type-O-Negative and music that falls into this specific genre will go for it as well. Perhaps it was those similarities that I spoke of that made this win me over so quickly but perhaps it was also the fact that I enjoy the musical output of Verni and Frost in their other bands. I like to give quality side-projects a thumbs-up when it is deserved. In a time when so much crap is issued it is nice to see something that is worthwhile and fun come from several standouts in the industry. Give it a listen I think you will be caught as well.

Track List:
1. Little Dead Girl
2. Everything I Got
3. Dream Of Angels
4. Sherimoon
5. Bleed With Me
6. Motocrypt
7. Let My People Go
8. Free Bird
9. In My Skin
10. Can’t Stop The Rain
11. Mortician’s Lullaby
12. Live For Death

Official Web site: www.BronxCasketCo.com

“Voice Of Wilderness” by Korpiklaani

Artist: Korpiklaani
Title: “Voice Of Wilderness”
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: 4/5/2005
Genre: Folk Metal
Rating: 8/10

Folk Metal was something entirely new to me and only recently had caught my attention when I heard the music of Finntroll. When a writing colleague suggested that I should also give a listen to Korpiklaani I decided to give it a sample. As I began to play “Voice Of Wilderness” I pretty much expected something like Finntroll or an exact replica of their style. However, I can inform you that this Finnish band handles this genre with a different and more accessible feel than Finntroll puts forward. Korpiklaani has more band members and as a result are able to give you a fuller and more authentic Folk sound. This is done by having full-time players who utilize more Folk oriented instruments like the accordion and flutes alongside various percussive devices. Can you recall the last time that you heard an accordion was a prevalent instrument in Heavy Metal music? There is a good chance you haven’t until now and I am very happy to report that the group uses all of these added pieces to a degree of success. At eight core members the band certainly has a full lineup which is made up of Jonne (vocals, guitar), Hittavainen (violin, jouhilkko, flutes), Matson (drums), Ali (percussion), Honka (guitars), Arto (bass), Cane (guitars), and Juho (accordion). This mass amount of players takes traditional Finnish Folk melodies and combines them with a great blend of Heavy Metal music. The efforts are nothing short of incredible and just go to show you how any different directions Metal music can be set in. Korpiklaani music makes you feel as though you are enjoying tales and ale with Friends at some outdoor celebration while the band jams in the background.
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“R30” by Rush

Artist: Rush
Title: “R30”
Label: Zoe Records
Release Date: 11/22/2005
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 9/10

In celebration of their 30th Year Anniversary World Tour Rush has given us a comprehensive DVD to commemorate the occasion. As a long time fan of the music of Rush I was very happy to know that this was being released. It comes in two different versions with one being the Deluxe Edition that comes with a lot of cool things and a Standard Edition for those that simply want the basics. This review is of the Deluxe Edition and when you open a copy you will forget that a standard one even is available. The package comes with two DVD’s and the first is the entire 30th Anniversary Concert that was performed. They ever included the amusing segments that featured comedian Jerry Stiller. Rush has always been a band that in addition to their creativity made sure to showcase their sense of humor in stuff like this so it was nice to find that it was not edited out. If you were lucky enough to see this concert you have probably already stopped reading and placed an order for the DVD. If not, and you wished you had gone to the show this DVD should at least ease some amount of the pain you feel from not getting tickets. The concert portion is over 2 hours long and stands at about 27 songs with some being spread out in Medley’s. One such piece is the opening overture that covered the group’s earliest work and was done instrumentally on this tour. I enjoyed seeing this material presented in this new and different fashion and I think most of the Rush fans got a charge out of this. In addition to the 30th Year being celebrated the group was also featuring tracks from their latest album. Entitled “Feedback” this CD was all cover material that the group had enjoyed in their youth. It was very interesting to see the band perform both “Crossroads” and “The Seeker” I have to admit. The entire concert was a great experience and was different enough from their last DVD “Rush In Rio” for fans that feel buying two concert performances in a row is excessive. Despite their stellar level of musicianship I think most will agree that they are not the most visual band however this show was shot very well with a lot of incredible angles of everyone as they play. This is a great aspect when it comes to the always amazing drum solo executed by Neil Peart. The Deluxe DVD includes a 2 CD audio companion of this concert which allows you to take the band with you on those road trips and always have the concert at your disposal. The CD does not come in the standard edition.
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