Ronnie Montrose @ B.B. King Blues Club (5/18/2006)

Artist: Ronnie Montrose
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: The Lizards
Date: 5/18/2006

It’s a rainy Thursday in NYC and I am off to B.B. King Blues Club for a night of Rock. Tonight it was going to be Ronnie Montrose (I had just been here two nights ago for Uli Jon Roth so the surroundings were more than familiar). The show started off with The Lizards who would lay down a tight set of original bluesy American Hard Rock. A well executed blend of elements from 70’s and 80’s Hard Rock and Metal, sounding vaguely familiar, yet still fresh. The group is powerfully driven by drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult) and along with bassist Randy Pratt, they laid down a tight, dynamic foundation. The Lizards are a solid band who could easily get a great groove going.
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“Holy Diver Live” (DVD) by Dio

Artist: Dio
Title: “Holy Diver Live”
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date: 5/30/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 7/10

Is there any question about “Holy Diver” being one of the most important Heavy Metal albums of all time? The overall impact of his solo debut led Ronnie James Dio and his band on a path to Metal dominance and while he would release great music afterwards none were as appealing on the whole as this recording. Songs like “Stand Up And Shout”, “Rainbow In The Dark” and title track “Holy Diver” became synonymous with the strength of Heavy Metal music and its power over the legions of the night. In 2005 during the tail end of his “Master Of The Moon” tour Dio treated the fans to a full performance of this classic album. Thanks to Eagle Vision the supporters of the legendary entertainer will get to relive this concert once again in the comforts of home where they control the volume and the mood. The concert was also released as a double live CD, but the owners of that product will immediately notice that the layout of the music is different. To make sense of the “Holy Diver” presentation, the first CD features that portion of the show, while CD2 features all the remaining songs. On the DVD, which is a single disk we get the entire show from start to finish just as it was performed had you attended one of these shows. If you did not purchase the CD, then here is a good way to make amends and fill a Metal need. Overall the show is very well done, but be aware that by this point Dio no longer does over the top visual shows.
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Dragonforce @ Club Avalon (5/2/2006)

Logo - Dragonforce

Artist: Dragonforce
Venue: Club Avalon (New York, NY)
Opener: Sanctity, Protest The Hero
Date: 5/2/2006
Label: Roadrunner Records

Testing the limits of super-sonic Power Metal comes the one and only Dragonforce! The band was set to perform in New York late last in 2005 at the legendary Punk club C.B.G.B.’s but that set of US appearances was cancelled. At the time, Homeland Security had discovered that guitarist Herman Li was on their most wanted list. This would of course be a case of badly mistaken identity but it is nice to know that the agency is checking into traveling musicians a lot more than those that would really bring the Country harm (thanks people…..sigh). Barring that dilemma, I have to be honest about the venue of choice. The club while considered legendary and lamented by many in its pending closure is really too small for a band that is getting the attention that Dragonforce has been finding. When it was announced that the new location for their US invasion would be the Club Avalon (the former Limelight to all you old schoolers) tickets sold out almost immediately. I found this to be fantastic because while Dragonforce is a Melodic Power Metal band they perform with such a blinding speed and skill that it offers fans of the genre a very different dynamic to enjoy. The evening would be kicked off by Roadrunner Records own Sanctity and they were not too bad. I was not crazy about their sound that night and felt it was over loud and a little muddy in the mix. Musically there seemed to be potential so I look forward to seeing them another time. There was also a Dillinger Escape Plan type of Math meets Metal Core band called Protest The Hero. I’m not the biggest fan of this kind of stuff but I gave them credit for trying to show the audience a different aspect of Metal. Dragonforce falls more into the Melodic Power genre, so that was what a large part of the audience was interested in – so being won over to something like this is often an uphill climb.
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“Greatest Hits 1970-1978” by Black Sabbath

Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: “Greatest Hits 1970-1978”
Label: Rhino Records
Release Date: 3/14/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 9/10

Is there really the need for comments on a Black Sabbath “greatest hits” package in today’s world? Well, let’s review a few things before we decide on that. For starters we live in a world with no real music station to watch outside of a couple of good VH1 shows. The former major player in Rock video now caters more to bling-bling shows or idiotic Prom & Sweet 16 things; more kids who watch those stations know Ozzy more for his appearance as the Rock star on that reality show. We also live in a world where it took the “esteemed” Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame a number of years passed their eligible time frame to vote them in. They opted to place The Pretenders and others ahead and while some were good bands, none were as important to music as the mighty Black Sabbath. Given these factors I say yes, it is high time to review a CD like this, so let’s go to it.
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“The Realm Of Napalm Records” by Various Artists

Artist: Various Artists
Title: “The Realm Of Napalm Records”
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: 10/24/2006
Genre: Gothic, Folk, Viking Metal
Rating: 5/5

If you are a fan of Gothic, Viking, Folk or Atmospheric Metal in general and you don’t know about Napalm Records then you are truly missing out. The label has been putting bands like this on the map for the past couple of years and it seems as though everything I hear from their artist roster is an enjoyable display of the wondrous differences one can have happen in Metal music. This DVD/CD release is a cornucopia of those acts and you as the viewer get video films as well as live performance footage of what they offer you. It’s as much a fun thing to watch as it is a learning experience about bands that you would not have readily available to you in most areas or unless you knew exactly where to look for it. On the DVD you get 19 promotional videos and of the lot, I most enjoyed Leaves’ Eyes, Korpiklaani and Tyr. Leaves’ Eyes is one of the label’s main artists so they also get an enjoyable special feature elsewhere on the DVD where you find them in studio and take a Winters Walk with singer Liv Kristine. It makes this something that a Leaves’ Eyes fan will enjoy very much since there is a batch of extra footage on the band that they might not find anywhere else. Tyr is an interesting group from the Faroe Islands while Korpiklaani shows the world that even a flute or accordion player can find their way into a Metal group as they deliver some of the most rousing Folk Metal you will hear in a long time. If you enjoy Finntroll, then you will also appreciate Korpiklaani.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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